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Full text of "The confessions of Con Cregan"

UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA 



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THE LIBRARY OF THE 

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ENDOWED BY THE 

DIALECTIC AND PHILANTHROPIC 

SOCIETIES 



PRU88U 
.A 1 
1897 
v. 13 



UNIVERSITY OF N.C. AT CHAPEL HILL 



00014437898 



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COPYRIGHT EDITION 

THE NOVELS OF 

CHARLES LEVER 

VOLUME 

XIII 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 



http://archive.org/details/confessionsofcon13leve 







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Downey and Company, Limited 



THE NOVELS OF 

CHARLES LEVER 



Edited by his Daughter 



THE CONFESSIONS 
OF CON CREGAN 




28 ETCHINGS AND OTHER ILLUSTRATIONS BY PHIZ 

LONDON 

DOWNEY AND CO., LIMITED 

12 YORK ST. COVENT GARDEN 

1898 









This Edition is limited to 1000 copies for 
sale in Great Britain and the United States. 



EDINBURGH : T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to Her Majesty 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 

' The Confessions of Con Cregan ' ivas originally 
issued in fourteen monthly <parts, tvith the illustra- 
tions by Phiz. It was first published in book 
form in 1849, when it appeared in two post 8vo 
volumes with the follovving title-page (undated), 
in addition to the engraved title-pages: 

Confessions | of | Con Cregan : | The Irish Gil 
Blas. I With Illustrations on Wood and 
Steel | By Hablot K. Brown. | London: | 
W M S. Orr and Co., Amen Corner, | Pater- 
noster Row. 






81 

■ 



O: 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 

author's preface ....... xi 

author's note . . . . . . . . xviii 

CHAP. I. A PEEP AT MY FATHER . t , , 1 

II. ANOTHER PEEP AT MY FATHER .... 8 

III. A FIRST STEP ON LIFE'S LADDER .... 21 

IV. HOW I ENTERED COLLEGE, AND HOW I LEFT IT . 34 
V. A PEEP AT 'HIGH AND LOW COMPANY' ... 43 

VI. 'VIEWS OF LIFE' ...... 53 

VII. A BOLD STROKE FOR AN OPENING IN THE WORLD . 61 

VIII. ' A QUIET CHOP ' AT ' KILLEEN'S,' AND A GLANCE AT 

A NEW CHARACTER ..... 81 

IX. SIR DUDLEY BROUGHTON ..... 97 

X. THE VOYAGE OUT ...... 116 

XI. MEANS AND MEDITATIONS ..... 141 

XII. A GLIMPSE OF ANOTHER OPENING IN LIFE . . 172 

XIII. QUEBEC ........ 182 

XIV. HOW I ' FELL IN ' AND ' OUT ' WITH ' THE WIDOW DAVIS ' 193 
XV. AN EMIGRANT'S FIRST STEP ' ON SHORE ' . . . 216 

XVI. A NIGHT IN THE 'LOWER TOWN' .... 229 

XVII. A ' SCENE ' AND ' MY LUCUBRATIONS ON THE ST. LAWRENCE ' 241 

XVIII. THE ORDINARY OF ALL NATIONS .... 259 

XIX. ON BOARD OF THE ' CHRISTOBAL ' . . . . 289 



Vlll 

XX. 

XXI. 

XXII. 

XXIII. 

XXIV. 

XXV. 

XXVI. 

XXVII. 

XXVIII. 

XXIX. 

XXX. 

XXXI. 

XXXII. 

XXXIII. 

XXXIV. 



CON CREGAN 



THE LOG-HUT AT BRAZOS 

A NIGHT IN A FOREST OF TEXAS . 

THE LAZARETTO OF BEXAR . 

THE PLACER .... 

THE FATE OF A GAMBUSINO 

LA SENHORA .... 

THE DISCOVERY 

GUAJUAQUALLA 

THE VOYAGE OF THE ' ACADIE ' 

THE 'CARCEL MORENA ' AT MALAGA 

CONSOLATIONS OF DIPLOMACY 

A NEW WALK IN PROGRESSIVE LIFE 

' MOI ET MON PRINCE ' 

A SOIREE IN THE 'GREAT WORLD ' 

CONCLUSION .... 



PAGE 

314 
336 
357 
383 
398 
418 
451 
476 
499 
514 
524 
548 
578 
592 
619 



LIST OF ETCHINGS 



CON AND THE MARCHESA 

VIGNETTE TITLE .... 

MOUNTING ANDY SMITH'S MARE 

HOW CON MATRICULATED 

CON LEADING THE WAY 

A QUIET CHOP AT ' KILLEEN'S ' 

THE INTRODUCTION 

A ROUGH PLAYMATE 

CON'S VISITOR AT THE HUT 

CON'S MODEST SOLILOQUY 

HOW CON PELL IN WITH THE 'WIDOW DAVIS ' 

NO. 158 S . 



CON GIVES AN EXTRA-ORDINARY ACCOUNT 
AT THE 'ORDINARY' 

PIZZICHETONI'S WONDERFUL FIDDLE 

HE REAPPEARED LEADING A TALL MARE 

A FREE AND INDEPENDENT LANDLORD 

THE RAPIDS 

BEXAR 

THE CAMANCHES 

THE GOVERNOR 

THE FANDANGO 

THE DUEL . 

MY RECEPTION AT DON ESTABAN'S . 

MY FIRST ATTEMPT AT FORTUNE-TELLING 

CON'S DUTCH FRIEND 

THE ESCAPE .... 

CON IN ALGIERS .... 

THE MUTUAL RECOGNITION 



OF HIMSELF 



PAGE 

Frontispiece 



26 
40 
70 



104 
138 
161 

188 
201 
212 

268 
271 
317 
323 
341 
353 
403 
411 
439 
447 
484 
511 
529 
534 
586 
635 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE 

An eminent apothecary of my acquaintance once told nie 
that at each increase of his family he had added ten per 
cent, to the price of his drugs, and as his quiver was 
full of daughters, Blackdraught, when I knew him, was 
a more costly cordial than Cura^oa. 

To apply this to my own case, I may mention that I had 
a daughter born to me about the time this story dates from, 
and not having at my command the same resource as my 
friend the chemist, I adopted the alternative of writing 
another story, to be published contemporaneously with 
that now appearing — The Daltons ; and not to incur the 
reproach so natural in criticism — of over- writing myself — 
I took care that the work should come out without a 
name. 

I am not sure that I made any attempt to disguise my 
style; I was conscious of scores of blemishes — I decline 
to call them mannerisms — that would betray me : but I 
believe I trusted most of all to the fact that I was making 
my monthly appearance to the world in another story, and 
with another publisher, and I had my hope that my small 
duplicity would thus escape undetected. 

I was aware that there was a certain amount of peril in 
running an opposition coach on the line I had made in 
some degree my own ; not to say that it might be question- 



xii CON CREGAN 

able policy to glut the public with a kind of writing more 

remarkable for peculiarity than perfection. 

I remember that excellent Irishman, Bianconi — not the 
less Irish that he was born at Lucca — which was simply a 
' bull ' — once telling me that to popularise a road on which 
few people were then travelling, and on which his daily 
two-horse car was accustomed to go its journey, with two 
or at most three passengers, the idea occurred to him that 
he would start an opposition conveyance, of course in 
perfect secrecy, and with every outward show of its being 
a genuine rival. He effected his object with such success, 
that his own agents were completely taken in, and never 
wearied of reporting, for his gratification, all the short- 
comings and disasters of the rival company. 

At length, and when the struggle between the com- 
petitors was at its height, one of his drivers rushed 
frantically into his office one day, crying out, ' Give a 
crown-piece to drink your honour's health for what I done 
to-day.' 

' What was it, Larry ? ' 

' I killed the yallow mare of the opposition car ; I passed 
her on the long hill, when she was blown, and I bruk her 
heart before she reached the top.' 

' After this I gave up the opposition,' said my friend — 
' " mocking was catching," as the old proverb says ; and I 
thought that one might carry a joke a little too far.' 

I had this experience before me, and I will not say it 
did not impress me. My puzzle was, however, in this wise : 
I imagined I did not care on which horse I stood to win ; 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE xiii 

in other words, I persuaded myself that it was a matter of 
perfect indifference to me which book took best with the 
public, and whether the reader thought better of The 
Daltons or Con Cregan, that it could in no way concern 
me. 

That I totally misunderstood myself, or misconceived 
the case before me, I am now quite ready to own. For 
one notice of The Daltons by the Press, there were at 
least three or four of Con Cregan, and while the former 
was dismissed with a few polite and measured phrases, 
the latter was largely praised and freely quoted. Nor 
was this all. The critics discovered in Con Cregan a 
freshness and a vigour which were so sadly deficient in 
The Daltons. It was, they averred, the work of a less 
practised writer, but of one whose humour was more 
subtle, and whose portraits, roughly sketched as they 
were, indicated a far higher power than the well-known 
author of Harry Lorrequer. 

The unknown — for there was no attempt to guess him 
— was pronounced not to be an imitator of Mr. Lever, 
though there were certain small points of resemblance; 
for he was clearly original in his conception of character, 
in his conduct of his story, and in his dialogues ; and there 
were traits of knowledge of life, in scenes and under 
conditions to which Mr. Lever could lay no claim. One 
critic, who had found out more features of resemblance 
between the two writers than his colleagues, uttered a 
friendly caution to Mr. Lever to look to his laurels, for 
there was a rival in the field possessing many of the 



xiv CON CREGAN 

characteristics by which he first won public favour; but 
a racy drollery in description and a quaintness in his 
humour all his own. It was the amusement of one of my 
children at the time to collect these sage comments and 
torment me with their judgments, and I remember a droll 
little note-book, in which they were pasted, and read 
aloud from time to time with no small amusement and 
laughter. 

Some of these I have even now before me : — 

' Our new novelist has great stuff in him.' — Bath Gazette. 

' Con Cregan — author unknown — begins promisingly ; his first 
number is a decided hit.' — Cambridge Chronicle. 

' The writer of Con Cregan is a new hand, but we predict he will 
be a success.' — Cambridge Advertiser. 

'A new tale, in a style with which Lever and his followers have 
made us acquainted.'— Hampshire Advertiser. 

' This tale is from the pen of an able Irish writer. The dialogue is 
very smartly written, so much so — and we cannot pay the writer a 
more genuine compliment — that it bespeaks the author to be an 
Irishman,' etc. — Somerset Gazette. 

' Con Cregan — by an unnamed author — is a new candidate for 
popularity,' etc. — Northern Whig, Belfast. 

' The writer must be an Irishman.' — Nottingham Gazette. 

' A new barque launched by an unknown builder.' — Cheltenham 
Chronicle. 

' That the author's name is not disclosed will not affect the popu- 
larity of this work — one of the most attractive,' etc. — Oxford Journal. 

' This is a new tale by the pen of some able Irish writer, the first part 
of which is only published.' — Ten Toivn Messenger. 

'Another new candidate for popular fame, and " Harry Lorrequer " 
had better look to his laurels. There is a poacher in the manor in the 
person of the writer of Con Cregan.' — Yorkshireman. 

' Con Cregan promises to become as great a fact as Harry Lorrequer.' 
— People's Journal. 

'Another daring author has entered the lists, and with every 
promise of success.' — Exeter Post. 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE xv 

It may sound very absurd to confess it, but I was 
excessively provoked at the superior success of the un- 
acknowledged book, and felt the rivalry to the full as 
painfully as though I had never written a line of it. Was 
it that I thought well of one story and very meanly of the 
other ; and in consequence was angry at the want of con- 
currence of my critics ? I suspect not. I rather imagine 
I felt hurt at discovering how little hold I had, in my 
acknowledged name, on a public with whom I fancied 
myself on such good terms, and it pained me to see with 
what ease a new and a nameless man could push for the 
place I had believed to be my own. 

The Daltons I always wrote, after my habit, in the 
morning ; I never turned to Con Cregan until nigh 
midnight; and I can still remember the widely different 
feelings with which I addressed myself to the task I liked, 
and to a story which, in the absurd fashion I have 
mentioned, was associated with wounded self-love. 

It is scarcely necessary for me to say that there was no 
plan whatever in this book. My notion was, that Con 
Cregan once created, would not fail to find adventures. 
The vicissitudes of daily poverty would beget shifts and 
contrivances ; with these successes would come ambition 
and daring. Meanwhile a growing knowledge of life 
would develop his character, and I should soon see 
whether he would win the silver spoon or spoil the horn. 
I ask pardon in the most humble manner for presuming 
for a moment to associate my hero with the great original 
of Le Sage. But I used the word ' Irish ' adjectively, and 



xvi CON CREGAN 

with the same amount of qualification that one employs 
to a diamond, and indeed, as I have read it in a London 
paper, to a ' Lord.' 

An American officer, of whom I saw much at the time, 
was my guide to the interior of Mexico ; he had been 
originally in the Santa Fe expedition, was a man of most 
adventurous disposition, and a love of stirring incident 
and peril, that even broken-down health and a failing 
constitution could not subdue. 

It was often very difficult for me to tear myself away 
from his Texan and Mexican experiences, his wild scenes 
of prairie life, or his sojourn amongst Indian tribes, and 
keep to the more commonplace events of my own story ; 
nor could all my entreaties confine him to those descrip- 
tions of places and scenes which I needed for my own 
characters. 

The saunter after tea-time, with this companion, 
generally along that little river that tumbles through 
the valley of the Bagno di Lucca, was the usual prepara- 
tion for my night's work; and I came to it as intensely 
possessed by Mexico — dress, manner, and landscape — as 
though I had been drawing on the recollection of a former 
journey. 

So completely separated in my mind were the two tales 
by the different parts of the day in which I wrote them, 
that no character of The Daltons ever crossed my mind 
after nightfall, nor was there a trace of Con Cregan in 
my head at my breakfast next morning. 

None of the characters of this story has been taken 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE xvii 

from life. The one bit of reality in the whole is in the 
sketch of ' Anticosti,' where I myself suffered once a very 
small shipwreck ; but of which I retain a very vivid recol- 
lection to this hour. 

I have already owned that I bore a grudge to the 
story as I wrote it ; nor have I outlived the memory of 
the chagrin it cost me, though it is many a year since 
I acknowledged that Con Cregan was by the author of 

Harry Lorrequer. 

CHARLES LEVER. 



AUTHOR'S NOTE 

In this age of ours, when thrones not only totter, but 
tumble ; when mobs play at skittles with old monarchies, 
and bowl them down, on every hand ; there would seem 
a degree of presumption in expecting the 'Dear Public' 
to turn from the columns of ' Our own Correspondent,' to 
read the simple annals of an unknown writer. He has, 
however, so much of extenuation in his favour as novelty 
can claim; for while most men in these sad days are 
declining in fortune, his fates are pretty lively. If Con- 
stitutional Monarchy be looking down, Con Cregan's 
affairs have been looking up ; for his prospects never bore 
a more sprightly aspect. 

With this consciousness, and the feeling that a life of 
very varied adventure — Home, Foreign, and Colonial — can 
rarely be without its lesson, he has ventured to come 
forth ; hoping that in the universal din of Europe he may 
find an occasional lull, be it ever so brief, for his recital ; 
and that just by way of an alterative, the world will turn 
for a space from the records of wholesale iniquity to listen 
to the still small voice of these Confessions. 

His native bashfulness, and other things of the kind, 
might have deterred him from giving these papers to the 
world; or, at least, like his old friend Talleyrand, the 
publication might have been delayed till long after his 



AUTHOR'S NOTE xix 

demise ; but he has been converted from these intentions, 
by remarking that Modesty is about as much cultivated 
now as Astrology; and that as a writer of Memoirs is 
certain of being attacked, vilified, and, to use a beautiful 
native expression, 'bally-ragged,' by the Press, it is just 
as well that he should be to 'the fore,' to attack, vilify, 
and ' bally-rag ' in his turn. 

For the liberty — it is sure to be called such — of intro- 
ducing royal and illustrious personages into his pages, 
detailing their conversations, printing their letters, and 
so on — is this the age to make any apology on that head ? 
— besides, when once a man makes free with himself, he 
has a clear right to make equally free with his friends. 



^ 9 0%§mm^s. 




A PEEP AT MY FATHER 

HEN we shall have become better ac- 
quainted, my worthy reader, there 
will be little necessity for my insist- 
ing upon a fact which, at this early 
stage of our intimacy, I deem it re- 
quisite to mention; namely, that my 
native modesty and bashfulness are only second to my 
veracity, and that while the latter quality in a manner 
compels me to lay an occasional stress upon my own 
goodness of heart, generosity, candour, and so forth, 
I have, notwithstanding, never introduced the subject 
without a pang — such a pang as only a sensitive and 
diffident nature can suffer or comprehend. There now, 
not another word of preface or apology ! 

I was born in a little cabin on the borders of Meath 
and King's County ; it stood on a small triangular bit of 



2 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

ground, beside a cross-road; and although the place was 
surveyed every ten years or so, they were never able to 
say to which county we belonged, there being just the 
same number of arguments for one side as for the other — a 
circumstance, many believed, that decided my father in his 
original choice of the residence; for while, under the 
' disputed boundary question,' he paid no rates or county 
cess, he always made a point of voting at both county 
elections ! This may seem to indicate that my parent 
was of a naturally acute habit; and indeed the way he 
became possessed of the bit of ground will confirm that 
impression. 

There was nobody of the rank of gentry in the parish, 
nor even ' squireen ' ; the richest being a farmer, a snug old 
fellow, one Henry M'Cabe, that had two sons, who were 
always fighting between themselves which was to have the 
old man's money — Peter, the elder, doing everything to 
injure Mat, and Mat never backward in paying off the 
obligation. At last, Mat, tired out in the struggle, 
resolved he would bear no more. He took leave of his 
father one night, and next day set off for Dublin, and 
'listed in the 'Buffs.' Three weeks after, he sailed for 
India ; and the old man, overwhelmed by grief, took to 
his bed and never arose from it after. 

Not that his death was any way sudden, for he lingered 
on for months — Peter always teasing him to make 
his will, and be revenged on 'the dirty spalpeen' that 
disgraced the family, but old Harry as stoutly resisting, 
and declaring that whatever he owned should be fairly 
divided between them. 

These disputes between father and son were well known 
in the neighbourhood. Few of the country-people passing 
the house at night but had overheard the old man's weak 
reedy voice, and Peter's deep hoarse one, in altercation. 
When, at last — it was on a Sunday night — all was still 
in the house ; not a word, not a footstep, could be heard, 
no more than if it were uninhabited, the neighbours 



CON CRBGAN 3 

looked knowingly at each other, and wondered if the old 
man was worse — if he were dead ! 

It was a little after midnight that a knock came to the 
door of our cabin. I heard it first, for I used to sleep in a 
little snug basket near the fire ; but I didn't speak, for I 
was frightened. It was repeated still louder, and then 
came a cry — ' Con Cregan ; Con, I say, open the door ! I 
want you.' I knew the voice well ; it was Peter M'Cabe's ; 
but I pretended to be fast asleep, and snored loudly. At 
last my father unbolted the door, and I heard him say, 
' Oh, Mr. Peter, what 's the matter ? is the ould man 



worse 



? ! 



' Faix that 's what he is ! for he 's dead ! ' 

' Glory be his bed ! when did it happen ? ' 

1 About an hour ago,' said Peter, in a voice that even I 
from my corner could perceive was greatly agitated. ' He 
died like an ould haythen, Con, and never made a will ! ' 

' That 's bad,' says my father, for he was always a polite 
man, and said whatever was pleasing to the company. 

'It is bad,' said Peter; 'but it would be worse if we 
couldn't help it. Listen to me now, Corny ; I want you to 
help me in this business ; and here 's five guineas in goold, 
if you do what I bid you. You know that you were always 
reckoned the image of my father, and before he took ill ye 
were mistaken for each other every day of the week.' 

' Anan ! ' said my father ; for he was getting frightened 
at the notion, without well knowing why. 

'Well, -what I want is, for you to come over to the 
house, and get into the bed.' 

'Not beside the corpse?' said my father, trembling. 

' By no means ; but by yourself ; and you 're to pretend 
to be my father, and that you want to make yer will before 
you die ; and then I' 11 send for the neighbours, and Billy 
Scanlan the schoolmaster, and you '11 tell him what to write, 
laving all the farm and everything to me — you understand ? 
And as the neighbours will see you, and hear yer voice, it 
will never be believed but that it was himself that did it.' 



4 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

' The room must be very dark,' says my father. 

'To be sure it will; but have no fear! Nobody will 
dare to come nigh the bed ; and you '11 only have to make 
a cross with yer pen under the name.' 

' And the priest ? ' said my father. 

'My father quarrelled with him last week about the 
Easter dues, and Father Tom said he 'd not give him the 
" rites " ; and that 's lucky now ! Come along now, quick, for 
we 've no time to lose ; it must be all finished before the 
day breaks.' 

My father did not lose much time at his toilette, for he 
just wrapped his big coat round him, and slipping on his 
brogues, left the house. I sat up in the basket and listened 
till they were gone some minutes ; and then, in a costume 
as light as my parent's, set out after them, to watch the 
course of the adventure. I thought to take a short cut, and 
be before them ; but by bad luck I fell into a bog-hole, and 
only escaped being drowned by a chance. As it was, when 
I reached the house, the performance had already begun. 

I think I see the whole scene this instant before my 
eyes, as I sat on a little window with one pane, and that a 
broken one, and surveyed the proceeding. It was a large 
room, at one end of which was a bed, and beside it a table, 
with physic-bottles, and spoons, and tea-cups ; a little 
farther off was another table, at which sat Billy Scanlan, 
with all manner of writing materials before him. The 
country-people sat two, sometimes three, deep round the 
walls, all intently eager and anxious for the coming 
event. Peter himself went from place to place, trying to 
smother his grief, and occasionally helping the company 
to whisky — which was supplied with more than accustomed 
liberality. 

All my consciousness of the deceit and trickery could 
not deprive the scene of a certain solemnity. The misty 
distance of the half -lighted room; the highly wrought 
expression of the country-people's faces, never more 
intensely excited than at some moment of this kind ; the 



CON CREGAN 5 

low, deep-drawn breathings, unbroken save by a sigh or a 
sob, the tribute of affectionate sorrow to some lost friend, 
whose memory was thus forcibly brought back — these, I 
repeat it, were all so real, that, as I looked, a thrilling 
sense of awe stole over me, and I actually shook with fear. 

A low, faint cough from the dark corner where the bed 
stood seemed to cause even a deeper stillness ; and then in 
a silence where the buzzing of a fly would have been heard, 
my father said, ' Where 's Billy Scanlan ? I want to make 
my will ! ' 

' He 's here, father ! ' said Peter, taking Billy by the 
hand and leading him to the bedside. 

' Write what I bid you, Billy, and be quick, for I haven't 
a long time afore me here. I die a good Catholic, though 
Father O'Raff erty won't give me the " rites ! " ' 

A general chorus of muttered ' Oh, musha, musha !' was 
now heard through the room ; but whether in grief over 
the sad fate of the dying man, or the unflinching severity 
of the priest, is hard to say. 

' I die in peace with all my neighbours and all mankind ! ' 

Another chorus of the company seemed to approve 
these charitable expressions. 

' I bequeath unto my son, Peter — and never was there a 
better son or a decenter boy! — have you that down? I 
bequeath unto my son, Peter, the whole of my two farms 
of Killimundoonery and Knocksheboora, with the fallow 
meadows behind Lynch's house ; the forge, and the right 
of turf on the Dooran bog. I give him, and much good 
may it do him, Lanty Cassarn's acre, and the Luary 
field, with the limekiln; and that reminds me that my 
mouth is just as dry ; let me taste what ye have in the 
jug.' Here the dying man took a very hearty pull, and 
seemed considerably refreshed by it. ' Where was I, Billy 
Scanlan ? ' says he ; ' oh, I remember, at the limekiln ; I 
leave him — that's Peter, I mean — the two potato-gardens 
at Noonan's Well ; and it is the elegant fine crops grows 
there.' 



6 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

' An't you gettin' wake, father darlin' ? ' says Peter, 
who began to be afraid of iny father's loquaciousness ; for, 
to say the truth, the punch got into his head, and he was 
greatly disposed to talk. 

' I am, Peter, my son,' says he ; ' I am getting wake ; just 
touch my lips again with the jug. Ah, Peter, Peter, you 
watered the drink ! ' 

' No, indeed, father ; but it 's the taste is leavin' you,' 
says Peter ; and again a low chorus of compassionate pity 
murmured through the cabin. 

' Well, I 'm nearly done now,' says my father : ' there 's 
only one little plot of ground remaining ; and I put it on 
you, Peter — as you wish to live a good man, and die with 
the same easy heart I do now— that you mind my last 
words to you here. Are you listening? Are the neighbours 
listening ? Is Billy Scanlan listening ? ' 

'Yes, sir. Yes, father. We're all minding,' chorused 
the audience. 

' Well, then, it 's my last will and testament, and may — 
give me over the jug' — here he took a long drink — 'and 
may that blessed liquor be poison to me if I 'm not as eager 
about this as every other part of my will ; I say, then, I 
bequeath the little plot at the cross-roads to poor Con 
Cregan ; for he has a heavy charge, and is as honest and as 
hard-working a man as ever I knew. Be a friend to him, 
Peter, dear ; never let him want while ye have it yourself ; 
think of me on my death-bed whenever he asks you for any 
trifle. Is it down, Billy Scanlan? the two acres at the 
cross to Con Cregan, and his heirs in secla seclorum. Ah, 
blessed be the saints! but I feel my heart lighter after 
that,' says he ; 'a good work makes an easy conscience. 
And now I '11 drink all the company's good health, and 
many happy returns ' 

What he was going to add, there's no saying; but 
Peter, who was now terribly frightened at the lively tone 
the sick man was assuming, hurried all the people away 
into another room, to let his father die in peace. 



CON CREGAN 7 

When they were all gone, Peter slipped back to my 
father, who was putting on his brogues in a corner : 
' Con,' says he, ' you did it all well ; but sure that was a 
joke about the two acres at the cross.' 

' Of course it was, Peter ! ' says he ; ' sure it was all a 
joke, for the matter of that ; won't I make the neighbours 
laugh hearty to-morrow when I tell them all about it ! ' 

'You wouldn't be mean enough to betray me?' says 
Peter, trembling with fright. 

' Sure you wouldn't be mean enough to go against yer 
father's dying words ? ' says my father ; ' the last sentence 
ever he spoke ' ; and here he gave a low wicked laugh, that 
made myself shake with fear. 

' Very well, Con ! ' says Peter, holding out his hand ; ' a 
bargain 's a bargain ; yer a deep fellow, that 's all ! ' and so 
it ended ; and my father slipped quietly home over the bog, 
mighty well satisfied with the legacy he left himself. 

And thus we became the owners of the little spot 
known to this day as Con's Acre. 





ANOTHER PEEP AT MY FATHER 

Y father's prosperity had the usual effect 
it has in similar cases. It lifted him 
into a different sphere of companion- 
ship, and suggested new habits of life. 
No longer necessitated to labour daily 
for his bread, by a very slight exercise 
of industry he could cultivate his ' potato-garden ' ; and 
every one who knows anything of Ireland, well knows 
that the potato and its corollary — the pig, supply every 
want of an Irish cottier household. 

Being thus at liberty to dispose of himself and his 
time, my parent was enabled to practise a long-desired, 
and much -coveted mode of life, which was to fre- 
quent shebeens and ale-houses, and all similar places of 
resort ; not, indeed, for the gratification of any passion 
for drink — for my father only indulged when he was 
'treated,' and never could bring himself to spend a 
farthing in liquor himself — but his great fondness for 
these places took its origin in his passion for talk. Never, 



THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 9 

indeed, lived there a man — from Lord Brougham himself, 
downwards — who had a greater taste for gossip and 
loquaciousness than my father. It mattered little what 
the subject, he was always ready; and whether it were 
a crim. con. in the newspapers, a seizure for rent, a 
marriage in high life, or a pig in the pound — there he 
was, explaining away all difficult terms of law and juris- 
prudence ; and many a difficulty that Tom Cafferty, the 
postmaster, had attempted in vain to solve, was, by a 
kind of ' writ of error,' removed to my father's court for 
explanation and decision. 

That he soon became a kind of authority in the 
neighbouring town of Kilbeggan, need not excite any 
surprise. It is men of precisely his kind, and with talents 
of an order very similar to his, that wield influence in 
the great cities of the earth. It is your talking, pushing, 
forward men, seeming always confident in what they say 
— never acknowledging an error nor confessing a defeat, 
who take the lead in life. With average ability, and ten 
times the average assurance, they reach the goal that 
bashful merit never even so much as gets within sight of. 

His chief resort, however, was the Court of Quarter 
Sessions, where he sat from the first opening case to the 
last judgment, watching with an intense interest all the 
vacillating changes of the law's uncertainty, which un- 
questionably were not in any way diminished by the 
singular individual who presided in that seat of justice. 
Simon Ball — or as he was better known at the bar, Snow 
Ball, an epithet he owed to his white head and eyebrows — 
had qualified himself for the bench by improving upon 
the proverbial attribute of justice. He was not only blind 
but deaf. For something like forty- five years he had 
walked the hall of the Four Courts with an empty bag, 
and a head scarcely more encumbered, when one morning 
— no one could guess why — the Gazette announced that 
the Lord-Lieutenant had appointed him to the vacant 
chairmanship of Westmeath — a promotion which had the 



10 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

effect of confounding all political animosity by its perfect 
unaccountableness. 

It is a law of Nature that nothing ever goes to loss. 
Bad wine will make very tolerable vinegar; spoiled, hay 
is converted into good manure; and so, a very middling 
lawyer often drops down into a very respectable judge. 
Had the gods but acknowledged Mr. Ball's abilities some 
years earlier, doubtless he had been an exception to the 
theory. They waited, however, so long, that both sight 
and hearing were in abeyance when the promotion came. 
It seemed to rally him, however, this act of recognition, 
although late. It was a kind of corroboration of the 
self-estimate of a long life, and he prepared to show the 
world that he was very different from what they took 
him for. No men have the bump of self-esteem like 
lawyers ; they live, and grow old, and die, always fancying 
that Holts, and Hales, and Mansfields, are hid within the 
unostentatious exterior of their dusty garments ; and 
that the wit that dazzles, and the pathos that thrills, 
are all rusting inside, just for want of a little of that 
cheering encouragement by -which their contemporaries 
are clad in silk and walk in high places. Snow Ball was 
determined to show the world its error, and with a smart 
frock and green spectacles, he took the field like a 'fine 
old Irish barrister,' with many a dry joke or sly sarcasm 
curled up in the wrinkles beside his mouth. However 
cheap a man may be held by his fellows in the ' Hall,' he 
is always sure of a compensation in the provinces. There, 
the country gentlemen looked upon their chairman as a 
Blackstone— not alone a storehouse of law, but a great 
appeal upon questions of general knowledge and informa- 
tion. I should scarcely have ventured upon what some 
of my readers may regard as a mere digression, if it were 
not that the gentleman, and the peculiar nature of his 
infirmities, had led to an intimate relation with my father. 
My parent's fondness for law, and all appertaining to it, 
had attached him to the little inn where Mr. Ball usually 



CON CREGAN 11 

put up at each season of his visit ; and gradually, by 
tendering little services, as fetching an umbrella when 
it rained, hastening for a book of reference if called for, 
searching out an important witness, and probably by a 
most frequent and respectful use of the title 'my lord,' 
instead of the humble 'your worship,' he succeeded in so 
ingratiating himself with the judge, that without exactly 
occupying any precise station, or having any regular em- 
ployment, he became in some sort a recognised appendage 
— a kind of ' unpaid attache to the court ' of Kilbeggan. 

My father was one of those persons who usually ask 
only a 'lift' from Fortune, and do not require to be 
continually aided by her. From being the humble 
attendant on the judge, he soon succeeded to being 
his privy councillor, supplying a hundred little secret 
details of the neighbourhood and its local failings, which 
usually gave Mr. Ball's decisions on the bench an air 
approaching inspiration, so full were they of a knowledge 
of individual life. As confidence ripened, my father was 
employed in reading out to the judge of an evening the 
various depositions of witnesses, the information laid, 
and the affidavits sworn — opportunities from which he 
did not neglect to derive the full advantage ; for while 
he usually accompanied the written document with a 
running commentary of his own to Mr. Ball, he also 
contrived to let the suitor feel how great was his know- 
ledge of the case, and what a powerful influence behind 
the scenes he wielded over the fortunes of the cause, in- 
somuch that it became soon well known that he who had 
Con Cregan on his side was better off than with the whole 
bench of country magistrates disposed to favour him. 

My father's prudence did not desert him in these trying 
circumstances. Without any historical knowledge of the 
matter, he knew, by a species of instinct, that pride was 
the wreck of most men, and that, to wield real substantial 
power, it is often necessary to assume a garb of apparent 
inefficiency and incapacity. To this end, the greater the 



12 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

influence lie possessed, the humbler did he affect to be; 
disclaiming everything like power, he got credit for pos- 
sessing a far greater share than he ever really enjoyed. 

That the stream of justice did not run perfectly pure 
and clear, however, may not be a matter of surprise ; for 
how many rocks, and shoals, and quicksands, are there 
in the channel ! and certainly my father was a dangerous 
hand at the wheel. Litigation, it must be owned, lost 
much of its vacillation. The usual question about any 
case, was, ' What does Con say ? did Con Cregan tell you 
you '11 win ? ' That was decisive — none sceptical enough 
to ask for more ! 

At the feet of this Gamaliel I was brought up, nothing 
the more tenderly that a step-mother presided over the 
' home department.' As I was a stout boy, of some 
thirteen or fourteen at this period of my father's life, 
and could read and write tolerably well, I was constantly 
employed in making copies of various papers used at the 
Sessions. Were I psychologically inclined, I might pause 
here to inquire how far these peculiar studies had their 
influence in biassing the whole tenor of my very eventful 
life; what latent stores of artifice did I lay up from all 
these curious subtleties ; how did I habituate my mind 
to weigh and balance probabilities, as evidence inclined 
to this side or that; above all, how gratified was I with 
the discovery, that there existed a legal right and wrong, 
perfectly distinct from the moral ones — a fact which 
served at once to open the path of life far wider and 
more amply before me. 

I must, however, leave this investigation to the reader's 
acuteness, if he think it worth following out; nor would 
I now allude to it, save as it affords me the opportunity, 
once for all, of explaining modes of thinking and acting 
which might seem, without some such clue, as unfitting 
and unseemly in one reared and brought up as I was. 

Whether the new dignity of his station had disposed 
him to it or not, I cannot say, but my father became far 



CON CREGAN 13 

more stern in his manner and exacting in his require- 
ments as he rose in life. The practice of the law seemed 
to impart some feature of its own peremptory character 
to himself, as he issued his orders in our humble household 
with all the impressive solemnity of a writ — indeed, aiding 
the effect by phrases taken from the awful vocabulary of 
justice. 

If my step-mother objected to anything, the answer 
was usually, she might ' traverse in prox ' at the next 
Sessions ; while to myself every order was in the style of 
a ' mandamus.' Not satisfied with the mere terrors of the 
Bench, he became so enamoured of the pursuit, as to 
borrow some features of prison discipline for the conduct 
of our household ; thus, for the slightest infractions of his 
severe code, I was ' put ' upon No. 3, Penitentiary diet — 
only reading potatoes vice bread. 

There would seem to be something uncongenial to 
obedience in any form in the life of an Irish peasant, 
something, doubtless, in the smell of the turf. He seems 
to imbibe a taste for freedom by the very architecture 
of his dwelling, and the easy unbuttoned liberty of his 
corduroys. Young as I was, I suppose the Celt was strong 
within me ; and the Times says, that will account for all 
delinquencies. I felt this powerfully ; not the less, indeed, 
that my father almost invariably visited me with the 
penalty of the case then before the Court ; so that while 
copying out at night the details of the prosecution, I had 
time to meditate over the coming sentence. It was, 
perhaps, fortunate for me that capital cases do not come 
under the jurisdiction of a ' sitting barrister,' otherwise I 
verily believe I might have suffered the last penalty of the 
law from my parent's infatuation. 

My sense of ' equity ' at last revolted. I perceived, that 
no matter who ' sued,' / was always ' cast ' ; and I at length 
resolved on resistance. I remember well the night this 
resolution was formed — it was a cold and cheerless one of 
January. My father had given me a great mass of papers 



14 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

to copy, and a long article for the newspapers to write 
out, which the ' judge ' was to embody in his address to the 
Bench. I never put pen to either, but sat with my head 
between my hands for twelve mortal hours, revolving 
every possible wickedness, and wondering whether in my 
ingenuity I could not invent some offences that no indict- 
ment could comprise. Day broke, and found me still un- 
occupied. I was just meditating whether I should avow 
my rebellion openly, and ■ plead ' in mitigation, when my 
father came in. 

My reader must excuse me if I do not dwell on what 
followed. It is enough to say that the nature of my 
injuries are unknown to the criminal statute, and that 
although my wounds and bruises are familiar to the prize- 
ring, they are ignored by all jurisprudence out of the slave 
states. Even my step-mother confessed, that I was not fit 
to ' pick out of the gutter,' and she proved her words by 
leaving me where I lay. 

Revenge must be a very ' human ' passion ; my taste for 
it came quite naturally. I had never read Othello nor 
Zanga; but I conceived a very clear and precise notion 
that I had a debt to pay, and pay it I would. Had the 
obligation been of a pecuniary character, and some 
' bankrupt commission ' been in jurisdiction over it, I had 
doubtless been called upon to discharge it in a series of 
instalments proportional to my means of life; being a 
moral debt, however, I enjoyed the privilege of paying 
it at once, and in full; which I did thus. I had often 
remarked that my father arose at night and left the cabin, 
crossing a little garden behind the house to a little shed, 
where our pig and an ass lived in harmony together ; and 
here, by dint of patient observation, I discovered that his 
occupation lay in the thatch of the aforesaid shed, in 
which he seemed to conceal some object of value. 

Thither I now repaired, some secret prompting sug- 
gesting that it might afford me the wished -for means of 
vengeance. My disappointment was indeed great, that no 



CON CREGAN 15 

compact roll of bank-notes, no thick woollen stocking close 
packed with guineas, or even crown-pieces, met my hand ; 
a heavy bundle of papers and parchment were all I could 
find, and these bore such an unhappy family resemblance 
to the cause of all my misfortunes, that I was ready to 
tear them to pieces in very spite. A mere second's reflec- 
tion suggested a better course. There was a certain 
attorney in Kilbeggan, one Morissy, my father's bitterest 
enemy ; indeed, my parent's influence in the session court 
had almost ruined, and left him -without a client. The 
man of law and precedents in vain struggled against de- 
cisions, which a secret and irresponsible adviser contrived 
beforehand, and Morissy's knowledge and experience were 
soon discovered to be valueless. It was a game in which 
skill went for nothing. 

This gentleman's character at once pointed him out as 
the fitting agent of vengeance on my father, and by an 
hour after daybreak did I present myself before him in all 
the consciousness of my injured state. 

Mr. Morissy's reception of me was not over gracious. 

' Well, you spawn of the devil,' said he, as he turned 
about from a small fragment of looking-glass, before 
which he was shaving, 'what brings you here? bad luck 
to you ! the sight of you 's made me cut myself.' 

' I 'm come, sir, for a bit of advice, sir,' said I, putting 
my hand to my hat in salutation. 

' Assault and battery ! ' said he, with a grin on the side 
of his mouth where the soap had been shaved away. 

' Yes, sir ; an aggravated case,' said I, using the phrase 
of the sessions. 

' Why don't you apply to yer father ? he 's Crown lawyer 
and Attorney- General ; 'faith, he's more besides — he's 
judge and jury too.' 

' And more than that in the present suit, sir,' says I, 
following up his illustration ; ' he 's the defendant here.' 

' What ! is that his doing ? ' 

' Yes, sir ; his own hand and mark,' said I, laughing. 



16 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

' That 's an ugly cut, and mighty near the eye ! but sure, 
after all, you 're his child.' 

' Very true, sir ; it 's only paternal correction ; but I 
have something else ! ' 

' What 's that, Con, my boy ? ' said he ; for we were now 
growing very familiar. 

' It is this, sir,' said I ; ' this roll of papers, that I found 
hid in the thatch — a safe place my father used to make his 
strong-box.' 

'Let us see !' said Morissy, sitting down and opening the 
package. Many were old summonses discharged, notices 
to quit withdrawn, and so on ; but at last he came to 
two papers pinned together, at sight of which he almost 
jumped from his chair. ' Con,' says he, ' describe the place 
you found them in.' I went over all the discovery again. 
' Did you yourself see your father put in papers there ? ' 

' I did, sir.' 

' On more than one occasion ? ' 

' At least a dozen times, sir.' 

'Did you ever remark any one else putting papers 
there ? ' 

' Never, sir ! none of the neighbours ever come through 
the garden.' 

' And it was always at night, and in secret he used to 
repair there ? ' 

' Always at night.' 

' That '11 do, Con ; that '11 do, my son. You '11 soon turn 
the tables on the old boy. You may go down to the 
kitchen and get your breakfast; be sure, however, that 
you don't leave the house to-day. Your father mustn't 
know where you are till we 're ready for him.' 

' Is it a strong case, sir ? ' said I. 

' A very strong case — never a flaw in it.' 

' Is it more than a larceny, sir ? ' said I. 

' It is better than that.' 

' I 'd rather it didn't go too far,' said I, for I was 
beginning to feel afraid of what I had done. 



CON CREGAN 17 

' Leave that to me, Con,' said Mr. Morissy, ' and go 
down to yer breakfast.' 

I did as I was bid, and never stirred out of the house 
the whole day, nor for eight days after ; when one 
morning Morissy bid me clean myself, and brush my 
hair, to come with him to the court-house. 

I guessed at once what was going to happen ; and now, 
as my head was healed, and all my bruises cured, I 'd very 
gladly have forgiven all the affair, and gone home again 
with my father ; but it was too late. As Mr. Morissy said, 
with a grin, ' The law is an elegant contrivance ; a child's 
finger can set it in motion, but a steam-engine could not 
hold it back afterwards ! ' 

The court was very full that morning ; there were five 
magistrates on the bench, and Mr. Ball in the middle of 
them. There were a great many farmers too, for it was 
market-day ; and numbers of the townspeople, who all 
knew my father, and were not sorry to see him ' up.' 
Cregan versus Cregan stood third on the list of cases, and 
very little interest attached to the two that preceded it. 
At last it was called ; and there I stood before the bench, 
with five hundred pair of eyes all bent upon me, and two 
of them actually looking through my very brain — for they 
were my father's, as he stood at the opposite side of the 
table, below the bench. 

The case was called an assault, and very soon ter- 
minated, for by my own admission it was clear that I 
deserved punishment, though probably not so severely as 
it had been inflicted. The judge delivered a very impres- 
sive lesson to my father and myself about our respective 
duties, and dismissed the case, with a reproof, the greater 
share of which fell to me. ' You may go now, sir,' said he, 
winding up a fine peroration ; ' fear God, and honour the 
king ; respect your parents, and make your capitals 
smaller.' 

' Before your worship dismisses the witness,' said 
Morissy, ' I wish to put a few questions to him.' 
13 B 



18 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

The case is disposed of ; call the next,' said the judge 
angrily. 

'I have a most important fact to disclose to your 
worship; one which is of the highest importance to the 
due administration of justice ; one which, if suffered to lie 
in obscurity, will be a disgrace to the law, and a reproach 
to the learned Bench.' 

' Call the next case, crier,' said the judge. ' Sit down, 
Mr. Morissy.' 

' Your worship may commit me, but I will be heard ' 

' Tipstaff ! take that man into ' 

' When you hear of a mandamus from the King's Bench 
— when you know that a case of compounding a felony ' 

' Come away, Mr. Morissy ; come quiet, sir ! ' said the 
police-sergeant. 

' What were you saying of a mandamus?' said the judge, 
getting frightened at the dreaded word. 

' I was saying this, sir,' said Morissy, turning fiercely 
round; 'that I am possessed of information which you 
refused to hear, and which will make the voice of the 
Chief -Justice heard in this court, which now denies its ear 
to truth.' 

'Conduct yourself more becomingly, sir,' said one of 
the county magistrates, ' and open your case.' 

Morissy, who was far more submissive to the gentry than 
to the chairman, at once replied in his blandest tone — 

' Your worship, it is now more than a month since I 
appeared before you in the case of Noonan versus M'Quade 
and others — an aggravated case of homicide. I might go 
further, and apply to it the most awful term the 
vocabulary of justice contains ! Your worship will re- 
member, that on that very interesting and important 
case, a document was missing, of such a character that 
the main feature of the case seemed actually to hang 
upon it. This was no less than the death-bed confession 
of Noonan, formally taken before a justice of the peace, 
Mr. Styles, and written with all the accurate regard to 



CON CREGAN 19 

circumstances the law exacts. Mr. Styles, the magistrate 
who took the deposition, was killed by a fall from his 
horse the following week; his clerk being ill, the indi- 
vidual who wrote the case was Con Cregan. Your worship 
may bear in mind that this man, when called to the 
witness-box, denied all knowledge of this dying confession, 
asserted that what he took down in writing were simply 
some brief and unsatisfactory notes of the affray — all to 
the advantage of the M'Quades — and swore that Mr. Styles, 
who often alluded to the document as a confession, was 
entirely in error, the whole substance of it being unim- 
portant and vague ; some very illegible and ill- written 
notes corroborating which were produced in court as the 
papers in question. 

'Noonan being dead, and Mr. Styles also, the whole 
case rested on the evidence of Cregan, and although, your 
worship, the man's character for veracity was not of that 
nature among the persons of his own neighbourhood to ' 

' Confine yourself to the case, sir,' said the judge, 
' without introducing matter of mere common report.' 

' I am in a position to prove my assertion,' said Morissy 
triumphantly. ' I hold here in my hand the abstracted 
documents, signed and sealed by Mr. Styles, and engrossed 
with every item of regularity. I have more — a memor- 
andum purporting to be a copy of a receipt for eighteen 
pounds ten shillings, received by Cregan from Jos. 
M'Quade, the wages of this crime ; and, if more were 
necessary, a promissory - note from M'Quade for an 
additional sum of seven pounds, at six months' date. 
These are the papers which I am prepared to prove in 
court; this the evidence which a few minutes back I 
tendered in vain before you ; and there,' said he, turning 
with a vindictive solemnity to "where my father was 
standing, pale, but collected, 'there's the man who, dis- 
tinguished by your worship's confidence, I now arraign 
for the suppression of this evidence, and the composition 
of a felony ! ' 



20 THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 

If Mr. Morissy was not perfectly correct in his law, 
there was still quite enough to establish a charge of 
misdemeanour against my father ; and he was accordingly 
committed for trial at the approaching assizes, while I 
was delivered over to the charge of a police-sergeant, to 
be in readiness when my testimony should be required. 

The downfall of a dynasty is sure to evoke severe 
recrimination against the late ruler, and now my parent, 
who but a few days past could have tilted the beam of 
justice at his mere pleasure, was overwhelmed with, not 
merely abuse and attack, but several weighty accusations 
of crime were alleged against him. Not only was it dis- 
covered that he interfered with the due course of justice, 
but that he was a prime actor in, and contriver of, many 
of the scenes of insurrectionary disturbance, which for 
years back had filled the country with alarm and the 
gaols with criminals. 

For one of these cases, a night attack for arms, the 
evidence was so complete and unquestionable, that the 
Crown prosecutor disliking the exhibition of a son giving 
evidence against his parent, dispensed with my attendance 
altogether, and prosecuting the graver charge obtained a 
verdict of guilty. 

The sentence was transportation for life, with a con- 
fiscation of all property to the Crown. Thus my first step 
in life was to exile my father, and leave myself a beggar — 
a promising beginning, it must be owned ! 





FIRST STEP ON LIFE S LADDER 

is among the strange and singular 
anomalies of our nature, that however 
pleased men may be at the conviction 
of a noted offender, few of those in- 
strumental to his punishment are held 
in honour and esteem. If all Kilbeggan rejoiced, as they 
did, at my father's downfall, a very considerable share of 
obloquy rested on me — a species of judgment, I honestly 
confess, that I was not the least prepared for. 

' There goes the little informer, said they as I passed. 

' What did you get for hanging ' — a very admirable piece of 

Irish exaggeration — ' for hanging yer father, Con? ' said one. 

' Couldn't you help yer step-mother to a say vogage ? ' 

shouted another. 

' And then we 'd be rid of yez all,' chimed in a third. 
' He 's rich now,' whined out an old beggar-man that 
often had eaten his potatoes at our fireside. ' He 's rich 
now, the chap is ; he '11 marry a lady ! ' 

This was the hardest to bear of all the slights, for not 



22 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

alone had I lost all pretension to my father's property, but 
the raggedness of my clothes, and the general misery of 
my appearance, might have saved me from the reproach 
of what is so forcibly termed ' blood-money.' 

' Come over to me this evening,' said Father Rush, and 
they were the only words of comfort I heard from any 
side. ' Come over to me about six o'clock, Con, for I want 
to speak to you.' 

They were long hours that intervened between that 
and six. I could not stay in the town where every one I 
met had some sneer or scoff against me ; I could not go 
home — I had none ! and so I wandered out into the open 
country, taking my course towards a bleak common, about 
two miles off, where few, if any one, was likely to be but 
myself. 

This wild and dreary tract lay alongside of the main 
road to Athlone, and was traversed by several footpaths, 
by which the country-people were accustomed to make 
' short cuts ' to market, from one part of the road to 
another ; for the way passing through a bog, took many a 
winding turn as the ground necessitated. 

There is a feeling of lonely desolation in wide far- 
stretching wastes, that accords well with the purposeless 
vacuity of hopelessness ; but somehow or other the very 
similitude between the scene without, and the sense of 
desolation within, establishes a kind of companionship. 
Lear was speaking like a true philosopher when he 
uttered the words, ' I like this rocking of the battlements.' 

I had wandered some hours ' here and there ' upon the 
common, and it was now the decline of day, when I saw at 
a little distance from me the figure of a young man, whose 
dress and appearance bespoke condition, running along at 
a brisk pace, but evidently labouring under great fatigue. 

The instant he saw me he halted, and cried out, ' I say, 
my boy, is that Kilbeggan yonder, where I see the spire ? ' 

' Yes, sir.' 

' And where is the highroad to Athlone ? ' 



CON CREGAN 23 

' Yonder, sir, where the two trees are standing.' 

1 Have you seen the coach pass — the mail for Athlone ? ' 

' Yes, sir, she went through the town about half an 
hour ago.' 

' Are you certain, boy ? are you quite sure of this ? ' cried 
he, in a voice of great agitation. 

' I am quite sure, sir ; they always change horses at 
Moone's public-house, and I saw them " draw up " there 
more than half an hour since.' 

' Is there no other coach passes this road for Dublin ? ' 

' The night mail, sir, but she does not go to-night ; this 
is Saturday.' 

' What is to be done ? ' said the youth in deep sorrow, 
and he seated himself on a stone as he spoke, and hid his 
face between his hands. 

As he sat thus, I had time to mark him well, and scan 
every detail of his appearance. 

Although tall and stoutly knit, he could not have been 
above sixteen, or at most seventeen years of age; his 
dress, a kind of shooting-jacket, was made in a cut that 
affected fashion, and I observed on one finger of his very 
white hand a ring, which, even to my uneducated eyes, 
bespoke considerable value. 

He looked up at last, and his eyes were very red, and a 
certain trembling of the lips showed that he was much 
affected. ' I suppose, my lad, I can find a chaise or a 
carriage of some kind in Kilbeggan ? ' said he, ' for I have 
lost the mail. I had got out for a walk, and by the advice 
of a countryman taken this path over the bog, expecting, 
as he told me, it would cut off several miles of way. I 
suppose I must have mistaken him, for I have been 
running for above an hour, and am too late after all ; but 
still, if I can find a chaise, I shall be in time yet.' 

' They 're all gone, sir,' said I ; ' and sorry am I to have 
such tidings to tell. The Sessions broke up to-day, and 
they 're away with the lawyers to Kinnegad.' 

' And how far is that from us ? ' 



24 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

1 Sixteen miles or more, by the road.' 

' And how am I to get there ? ' 

' Unless ye walk it ' 

'Walk! impossible. I am dead beat already; besides 
the time it would take would lose me all chance of 
reaching Dublin as I want.' 

' Andy Smith has a horse, if he 'd lend it ; and there 's a 
short road by Hogan's boreen.' 

'Where does this Smith live?' said he, stopping me 
impatiently. 

' Not a half-mile from here ; you can see the house from 
this.' 

' Come along, then, and show me the way, my boy,' said 
he ; and the gleam of hope seemed to lend alacrity to his 
movements. 

Away we set together, and, as we went, it was arranged 
between us that if Andy would hire out his mare, I should 
accompany the rider as guide, and bring back the animal 
to its owner, while the traveller proceeded on his journey 
to town. 

The negotiation was tedious enough ; for, at first, Andy 
wouldn't appear at all ; he thought it was a process-server 
was after him — a suspicion probably suggested by my 
presence, as it was generally believed that a rag of my 
father's mantle had descended to me. It was only after a 
very cautious and careful scrutiny of the young traveller 
through a small glass-eye — it wasn't a window — in the 
mud wall, that he would consent to come out. When he 
did so, he treated the proposal most indignantly. ' Is it he 
hire out his baste ? as if she was a dirty garraun of Betty 
Nowlan's of the head inn — he wondered who'd ask the 
like!' 

The youth, deterred by this reception, would have 
abandoned the scheme at once ; but I, better acquainted 
with such characters as Andy, and knowing that his 
difficulties were only items in the intended charge, haggled, 
and bargained, and bullied, and blarneyed by turns ; and, 



CON CEEGAN 25 

after some five-and-forty minutes of alternate joking and 
abusing each other, it was at last agreed on, that the ' baste ' 
was to be ceded for the sum of fifteen shillings — ' two-and- 
sixpence more if his honour was pleased with the way she 
carried him'; the turnpike and a feed of oats being also 
at the charge of the rider, as well as all repairs of shoes 
incurred by loss, or otherwise. Then there came a supple- 
mental clause as to the peculiar care of the animal. How 
' she wasn't to be let drink too much at once, for she 'd 
get the colic ' ; and if she needed shoeing, she was to 
have a ' twitch ' on her nose, or she 'd kick the forge to 
'smithereens.' The same precaution to be taken if the 
saddle required fresh girthing ; a hint was given, besides, 
not to touch her with the left heel, or she 'd certainly kick 
the rider with the hind leg of the same side ; and, as a last 
caution given, to be on our guard at the cross-roads at 
Toomes Bridge, or she 'd run away towards Croghan, 
where she once was turned out in foal. ' Barring ' these 
peculiarities, and certain smaller difficulties about mount- 
ing, ' she was a lamb, and the sweetest tempered crayture 
ever was haltered.' 

In the very midst of this panegyric upon the animal's 
good and noble qualities he flung open the door of a little 
shed, and exhibited her to our view. I verily believe, what- 
ever the urgency of the youth's reason for proceeding, that 
his heart failed him at the sight of the steed ; a second's 
reconsideration seemed to rally his courage, and he said, 
' No matter, it can't be helped ; saddle her at once, and let 
us be off.' 

' That 's easier said nor done,' muttered Andy to himself, 
as he stood at the door, without venturing a step farther. 
' Con,' said he, at last, in a species of coaxing tone I "well 
knew boded peril, ' Con, acushla, get a howld of her by the 
head, that 's a fine chap ; make a spring at the forelock.' 

' Maybe she 'd kick ' 

' Sorra kick ! get up there now, and I '11 be talking to you 
all the while.' 



26 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

This proposition, though doubtless meant as most 
encouraging, by no means reassured me. 

'Come, come! I'll bridle the infernal beast,' said the 
youth, losing all patience with both of us ; and he sprang 
forward into the stable ; but barely had he time to jump 
back, as the animal let fly with both hind legs together. 
Andy, well aware of what was coming, pulled us both back, 
and shut to the door, against which the hoofs kept up one 
rattling din of kicks that shook the crazy edifice from roof 
to ground. 

' Ye see what comes of startlin' her ; the crayture 's timid 
as a kid,' said Andy, whose blanched cheek badly corro- 
borated his assumed composure. 'Ye may do what ye 
plaze, barrin' putting a bridle on her ; she never took kindly 
to that ! ' 

' But do you intend me to ride her without one ? ' said the 
youth. 

' By no manner of means, sir,' said Andy, with a plausible 
slowness on each word, that gave him time to think of an 
expedient; 'I wouldn't be guilty of the like; none that 
knows me would ever say it to me. I 'm a poor man ' 

' You 're a devilish tiresome one,' broke in the youth 
suddenly ; ' here we have been above half an hour standing 
at the door, and none the nearer our departure than when 
we arrived.' 

' Christy Moore could bridle her, if he was here,' said 
Andy; 'but he's gone to Moate, and won't be back till 
evening ; maybe that would do ? ' 

A very impatient, and not very pious exclamation con- 
signed Christy to an untimely fate. ' Well, don't be angry, 
anyhow, sir,' said Andy ; ' there 's many a thing a body 
would think of, if they weren't startled ; see now, I have a 
way this minute, an elegant fine way, too.' 

' Well, what is it ! Confound your long-winded speeches !' 

' There now, you 're angry again ! sure it 's enough to 
give one quite a through-otherness, and not leave them 
time to reflect.' 




Mounting Andy Smith's Mare . 



CON CREGAN 27 

' Your plan, your plan ! ' said the young man, his lips 
trembling with anger and impatience. 

' Here it is, then ; let the " gossoon," ' meaning me, ' get 
up on the roof and take off two or three of the scraws, the 
sods of grass, till he can get through, and then steal down 
on the mare's back; when he's once on her, she'll never 
stir head nor foot, and he can slip the bridle over quite 
aisy.' 

' The boy might be killed ; no, no, 1 11 not suffer that ' 

' Wait, sir,' cried I, interrupting, ' it 's not so hard after 
all ; once on her back, I defy her to throw me.' 

' Sure I know that well ; sorra better rider in the Meath 
hunt than little Con,' broke in Andy, backing me with a 
ready flattery he thought would deceive me. 

It was not without reluctance that the youth consented 
to this forlorn hope, but he yielded at last ; and so, with a 
bridle fastened round me like a scarf, I was hoisted on the 
roof by Andy, and under a volley of encouraging expres- 
sions, exhorted to ' go in and win.' 

' There, there, acushla ! ' cried Andy, as he saw me per- 
forming the first act of the jriece with a vigour he had never 
calculated on ; ' 'tisn't a coach and six you want to drive 
through. Tare-an'-ages ! you '11 take the whole roof off.' 
The truth was, I worked away with a malicious pleasure in 
the destruction of the old miser's roof; nor is it quite 
certain how far my zeal might have carried me, when 
suddenly one of the rafters — mere light poles of ash — gave 
way, and down I went, at first slowly, and then quicker, 
into a kind of funnel formed by the smashed timbers and 
the earthen sods. The crash, the din, and the dust 
appeared to have terrified the wicked beast below, for she 
stood trembling in one corner of the stable, and never 
moved a limb as I walked boldly up and passed the bridle 
over her head. This done, I had barely time to spring on 
her back, when the door was forced open by the young 
gentleman, whose fears for my fate had absorbed every 
other thought. 



28 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

' Are you safe, my boy, quite safe ? ' he cried, making 
his way over the fallen rubbish. 

' Oh ! the devil fear him,' cried Andy, in a perfect rage of 
passion ; ' I wish it was his bones was smashed, instead of 
the roof-sticks — see ! — Och, murther, only look at this.' 
And Andy stood amid the ruins, a most comical picture of 
affliction, in part real and in part assumed. Meanwhile 
the youth had advanced to my side, and with many a kind 
and encouraging word, more than repaid me for all my 
danger. 

''Tisn't five pounds will pay the damage,' cried Andy, 
running up on his fingers a sum of imaginary arithmetic. 

' Where 's the saddle, you old ' What the young man 

was about to add, I know not ; but at a look from me he 
stopped short. 

'Is it abusin' me you're for now afther wrecking my 
house and destroying my premises?' cried Andy, whose 
temper was far from sweetened by the late catastrophe. 
' Sure what marcy my poor beast would get from the likes 
of you ! sorry step she '11 go in yer company ; pay the 
damages you done, and be off.' 

Here was a new turn of affairs, and judging from the 
irascibility of both parties, a most disastrous one ; it 
demanded, indeed, all my skill — all the practised dexterity 
of a mind trained, as mine had been, by many a subtlety — to 
effect a compromise, which I did thus : my patron being 
cast in the costs of all the damages, to the amount of 
twenty shillings, and the original contract to be maintained 
in all its integrity. 

The young man paid the money without speaking ; but 
I had time to mark that the purse from which he drew it 
was far from weighty. ' Are we free to go at last ? ' cried 
he, in a voice of suppressed wrath. 

'Yes, yer honour; all's right,' answered Andy, whose 
heart was mollified at the sight of money. ' A pleasant 
journey, and safe to ye. Take good care of the beast ; don't 
ride her over the stones, and ' 



CON CREGAN 29 

The remainder of the exhortation was lost to us, as we 
set forth in a short jog-trot, I running alongside. 

'When we are once below the hill, yonder,' said I to 
my companion, 'give her the whip, and make up for 
lost time.' 

' And how are you to keep up, my lad ? ' asked he in 
some surprise. 

I could scarcely avoid a laugh at the simplicity of the 
question, as if an Irish gossoon with his foot on his native 
bog wouldn't be an overmatch in a day's journey for the 
best hack that ever ambled. Away we went, sometimes 
joking over, sometimes abusing the old miser Andy, of 
whom, for my fellow-traveller's amusement, I told various 
little traits and stories, at which he laughed with a zest 
quite new to me to witness. My desire to be entertaining 
then led me on to sj)eak of my father and his many curious 
adventures — the skill with which he could foment litiga- 
tion, and the wily stratagems by which he sustained it 
afterwards. All the cunning devices of the process-server 
I narrated with a gusto that smacked of my early train- 
ing ; how, sometimes, my crafty parent would append a 
summons to the collar of a dog, and lie in wait till he saw 
the owner take it off and read it, and then emerging from 
his concealment, cry out, ' Sarved,' and take to his heels ; 
and again, how once he succeeded in 'serving' old Andy 
himself, by appearing as a beggar-woman, and begging him 
to light a bit of paper to kindle her pipe. The moment, 
however, he took the bit of twisted paper, the assumed 
beggar-woman screamed out, ' Andy, yer sarved ; that 's a 
process, my man ! ' The shock almost took Andy's life ; 
' and there 's not a beggar in the barony dares to come near 
him since,' I added. 

' Your father must be well off, then, I suppose,' said my 
companion. 

' He was, a few weeks ago, sir ; but misfortune has come 
on us since that.' I was ashamed to go on, and yet I felt 
that strange impulse so strong in the Irish peasant to 



30 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

narrate anything of a character which can interest by- 
harrowing and exciting the feelings. 

Very little pressing was needed to make me recount the 
whole story, down to the departure of my father with the 
other prisoners sentenced to transportation. 

'And whither were you going when I met you this 
morning on the common?' said my fellow-traveller, in a 
voice of some interest. 

' To seek my fortune, sir,' was my brief answer ; and 
either the words, or the way they were uttered, seemed to 
strike my companion, for he drew up short and stared at 
me, repeating the phrase, ' Seek your fortune ! ' ' Just so,' 
said I, warmed by an enthusiasm which then was beginning 
to kindle within me, and which for many a long year since, 
and in many a trying emergency, has cheered and sus- 
tained me. ' Just so, the world is wide, and there 's a path 
for every one, if they 'd only look for it.' 

' But you saw what came of my taking a short cut this 
morning,' said my companion, laughing. 

' And you 'd have been time enough too, if you had been 
always thinking of what you were about, sir ; but as you 
told me, you began a-thinking and a-dreaming of twenty 
things far away ; besides, who knows what good turn luck 
may take, just at the very moment when we seem to have 
least of it.' 

'You're quite a philosopher, Con,' said he. smiling. 

' So Father Mahon used to say, sir,' said I proudly, and 
in reality highly flattered. 

Thus chatting, we journeyed along, lightening the way 
with talk, and making the hours seem to me the very 
pleasantest I had ever passed. At last we came in sight 
of the steeple of Kinnegad, which lay in the plain before 
us, about a mile distant. 

The little town of Kinnegad was all astir as we entered 
it. The ' up mail ' had just broken down, in the main street, 
sending all its passengers flying in various directions — 
through shop-windows, into cow-houses and piggeries, 



CON CREGAN 31 

some being proudly perched on the roof of a cabin, and 
others most ignobly seated on a dunghill — the most 
lamentable figure of all being an elderly gentleman, who, 
having cut a somersault through an apothecary's window, 
came forth, cut by a hundred small phials, and bearing on 
his person unmistakable evidence of every odour from tar- 
water to asafetida. The conveyance itself lay, like the 
Ark after the Deluge, quietly reposing on one side ; while 
animals, male and female 'after their kind,' issued from 
within. Limping and disconsolate figures were being 
assisted into the inn ; and black eyes and smashed faces 
were as rife as in a country fair. 

I was not slow in appropriating the calamity to a good 
purpose. ' See, sir,' I whispered to my companion, ' you 
said, a while ago, that nobody had such bad luck as your- 
self ; think what might have happened you now, if you 
hadn't missed the coach.' 

' True enough, Con,' said he ; ' there is such a thing as 
being too late for bad as well as for good fortune ; and I 
experience it now. But the next question is, how to get 
forward ; for, of course, with a broken axle, the mail 
cannot proceed farther.' 

The difficulty was soon got over. The halt and the 
maimed passengers, after loudly inveighing against all 
coach-proprietors — the man that made, and the man that 
horsed — he that drove, and he that greased the wheels of 
all public conveyances, demanded, loudly, to be forwarded 
to the end of their journey by various chaises, and other 
vehicles of the town ; I at the same time making use of 
my legal knowledge to suggest that while doing so, they 
acted under protest; that it was 'without prejudice' to 
any future proceedings they might deem fit to adopt for 
compensatory damages. If some laughed heartily at the 
source from which the hint came, others said I was a 
' devilish shrewd chap,' and insinuated something about 
a joint-stock subscription of sixpences for my benefit ; but 
the motion was apparently unseconded, and so, like many 



32 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

benefactors of my species, I had to apply to my conscience 
for my reward ; or, safer still, had to wait till I could pay 
myself. 

My young companion, who now, in a few words, told 
me that he was a student at Trinity College, and a ' reader 
for honours,' pulled out his purse to pay me. ' Remember, 
my boy, the name of Henry Lyndsay ; I am easily found, 
if you chance to come to Dublin; not that I can be of 
much service to any one, but I shall not forget the service 
you rendered me this day. Here, take this ; pay for the 
mare's feeding, and when she has rested ' 

I would not suffer him to proceed further, but broke 
in : ' I 'm not going back, sir ! I '11 never turn my footsteps 
that way again ! Leave the mare in the inn ; Andy comes 
every Saturday here for the market, and will find her safe. 
As for me, I must " seek my fortune " ; and when one has to 
search for anything, there 's nothing like beginning early.' 

' You 're a strange fellow, Con,' said he, looking at me ; 
and I was shrewd enough to see that his features exhibited 
no small astonishment at my words. ' And where do you 
intend to look for this same fortune you speak of ? ' 

' No one place in particular, sir. I read in an old book 
once, that good-luck is like sunshine, and is not found in 
all climates at the same time ; so I intend to ramble about ; 
and when I breakfast on the sunny side of the apple, I 
never stay to dine off the green one.' 

'And you are the kind of fellow to succeed!' said he, 
half to himself, and rather as though reflecting on my 
words than addressing me. 

' So I intend, sir ! ' replied I confidently. 

' Have you ever read Gil Bias, Con ? ' 

' I have it almost by heart, sir.' 

' That 's it ! ' said he, laughing ; ' I see whence you 've 
got your taste for adventure. But remember, Con, Gil 
Bias lived in different times from ours, and in a very 
different land. He was, besides, a well-educated fellow, 
with no small share of srood looks and good manners.' 



CON CREGAN 



33 



' As for age and country, sir,' said I boldly, ' men and 
women are pretty much alike at all times, and in all 
places. In the old book I told you of a while ago, I read 
that human passions, like the features of the face, are 
only varieties of the same few ingredients. Then, as to 
education and the rest — what one man can pick up, so 
can another. The will is the great thing, and I feel it 
very strong in me. And now, to give a proof of it, I am 
determined to go up to Dublin, and with your honour, too ; 
and you '11 see if I won't have my way.' 

' So you shall, Con ! ' replied he, laughing. ' I '11 take 
you on the top of the chaise ; and although I cannot afford 
to keep a servant, you shall stay with me in College, until 
chance, in which you have such implicit faith, shall provide 
better for you. Come now, lead the mare into the stable, 
for I see my companions are packing up.' 

I was not slow in obeying the orders, and soon returned 
to assist my new master with his luggage. All was quickly 
settled ; and a few minutes after saw me seated on a 
portmanteau on the roof on my way to Dublin. 




13 




HOW I ENTERED COLLEGE, AND HOW I LEFT IT 

T was still dark, on a drizz- 
ling morning in January, as 
we reached Dublin ; the 
lamps shone faintly through 
the foggy, wet atmosphere ; 
and the gloom was deepened 
as we entered the narrow 
streets at the west of the 
city. A few glimmering 
lights from five storeys high 
showed where some early 
riser was awaking to his 
daily toil ; while here and 
there some rough-coated 
policeman stood at the cor- 
ner of a street to be rained 
on. No other sign of living thing appeared ; and I own 
the whole aspect was a sad damper to the ardour of that 
enthusiasm which had often pictured the great metro- 
polis as some gorgeous fairyland. 

The carriage stopped twice, to set down two of the 
travellers, in obscure dingy streets, and then I heard 
Mr. Lyndsay say, ' To the College ' ; and on we went 
through a long labyrinth of narrow lanes and thorough- 
fares, which gradually widened out into more spacious 




THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 35 

streets, and at length arrived at a great building, whose 
massive gates slowly opened to receive, and then solemnly 
closed after us. We now stood in a spacious quadrangle, 
noiseless as a church at midnight. 

Mr. Lyndsay hastily descended, and ordering me to 
carry in some of the baggage, I followed him into a large 
scantily furnished room, beyond which was a bedchamber. 
' This is my home, Con,' said he, with a melancholy 
attempt at a smile ; ' and here,' said he, leading me to a 
small one-windowed room on the opposite side, ' here is 
yours.' A bed, of that humble kind called a stretcher, 
placed against one wall, and a large chest for holding 
coals against the other, a bottomless chair, and a shoe- 
brush with very scanty bristles, constituted the entire 
furniture. 

It was some time after all the luggage was removed 
before Mr. Lyndsay could get rid of the postillion. Like all 
poor men in a like predicament, he had to bargain, and 
reason, and remonstrate, submitting to many a mortifi- 
cation, and enduring many a sore pang, at the pitiless 
ribaldry which knows nothing so contemptible as poverty. 
At last — after various reflections on the presumption of 
people who travel and cannot afford it — on their vanity, 
self-conceit, and so forth — the fellow departed, with what 
my ears assured me was no contemptible share of my poor 
master's purse. 

I was sitting alone in my den during this scene, not 
wishing by my presence to add anything to his mortifica- 
tion ; and now all was perfectly still. I waited for some 
time expecting to be called — to be told of some trifling 
service to execute, or, at least, to be spoken to ; but no, not 
a sound, not a murmur was to be heard. 

My own thoughts were none of the brightest ; the 
ceaseless rain that streamed against the little window, and 
shut out all prospect of what was without ; the cold and 
cheerless chamber, and the deathlike silence, were like lead 
upon my heart. 



36 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

I had often, in my reveries at home, fancied that all 
who were lifted above the cottier in life must have neither 
care nor sorrow; that real want was unknown, save in 
their class ; and that all afflictions of those more highly- 
placed were of a character too trifling to be deemed 
serious. And now, suddenly, there came to me the 
thought, What if every one had his share of grief? I 
vow, the very suspicion thrilled through me. 

As I sat thus, dwelling on the sad theme, a sigh, low 
but distinct, came from the adjoining chamber. I suddenly 
remembered my young master, and crept noiselessly to the 
door ; it stood ajar, and I could see in, and mark every- 
thing well. He was sitting at a table covered with books 
and writing-materials; a single candle threw its yellow 
glare over the whole, and lit up with a sickly tint the 
travel-worn and tired features of the youth. 

As I looked, he leaned his forehead down upon his arm, 
and seemed overcome either by sorrow or fatigue ; when, 
suddenly, a deep-booming bell sent forth a solemn peal, 
and made the very chamber vibrate with its din. Lyndsay 
started at the sound ; a kind of shudder, like a convulsive 
throe, shook his limbs ; and sitting up on his seat, he 
pushed back the falling hair from his eyes, and again 
addressed himself to his book. The heavy tolling sounds 
seemed now no longer to distract, but rather to nerve him 
to greater efforts, for he read on with an intense persist- 
ence, turning from volume to volume, and repeatedly 
noting down on the paper as he read. 

Of a sudden the bell ceased, and Lyndsay arose from 
the table and passed into the bedroom ; from which he 
almost instantaneously reappeared, dressed in his cap 
and gown — a new and curious costume in my eyes, but 
which at the time was invested with a deep, mysterious 
interest to me. 

I retired silently now to my room, and saw him pass 
out into the wide court. I hastened to look out. Already 
some hundred others in similar costume were assembled 



CON CREGAN 37 

there, and the buzz of voices, and the sound of many feet, 
were a pleasant relief to the desertlike silence of the 
court as I had seen it before. The change was, however, 
of a very brief duration ; in less than a minute the whole 
assemblage moved off, and entered a great building, whose 
heavy door closed on them with a deep bang, and all was 
still once more. 

I now set myself to think by what small services I 
could render myself acceptable to my young master. I 
arranged the scanty furniture into a resemblance — faint 
enough, certainly — to comfort, and made a cheerful fire 
with the remnant of the roomy coal-box. This done, I 
proceeded to put his clothes in order, and actually 
astonished myself with the skill I seemed to possess in my 
new walk. An intense curiosity to know what was going 
on without led me frequently to the door which led into 
the court; but I profited little by this step. The only 
figures which met my eye were now and then some 
elderly personage clad in his academic robes, gravely 
wending towards the ' Hall,' and the far less imposing- 
cries of some ' college women,' as the hags are called, who 
officiate as the University housemaids. 

It was at one of these visits that suddenly I heard the 
great door of the ' Hall ' burst open with a crash, and 
immediately down the steps poured the black tide of 
figures, talking and laughing in one multifarious din, 
that seemed to fill the very air. Cautiously withdrawing, 
I closed the door, and retired ; but scarcely had I reached 
my room, when young Lyndsay passed through to his own 
chamber: his cheek was flushed, and his eyes sparkled 
with animation, and his whole air and gesture indicated 
great excitement. 

Having removed his cravat, and bathed his temples 
with cold water, he once more sat down before his books, 
and was soon so immersed in study as not to hear my 
footsteps as I entered. 

I stood, uncertain, and did not dare to interrupt him for 



38 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

some minutes ; the very intensity of his application awed 
me. Indeed, I believe I should have retired without a 
word, had he not accidentally looked up and beheld me. 
' Eh ! — what — how is this ? ' cried he, endeavouring to recall 
his mind from the themes before him; 'I had forgotten 
you, my poor boy, and you have had no breakfast.' 

'And you, sir?' said I, in reality more interested for 
him than myself. 

' Take this, Con,' said he, not heeding my remark, and 
giving me a piece of silver from his purse ; ' get yourself 
something to eat. To-morrow, or next day, we shall 
arrange these things better ; for at this moment my head 
has its load of other cares.' 

'But will you not eat something?' said I; ' you have 
not tasted food since we met.' 

'We are expected to breakfast with our tutor on the 
examination mornings, Con,' said he ; and then, not 
seeming to feel the inconsistency of his acts with his 
words, he again bent his head over the table, and lost all 
remembrance of either me or our conversation. I stole 
quietly away, and sallied forth to seek my breakfast 
where I could. 

There were few loiterers in the court ; a stray student 
hurrying past, or an old slipshod hag of hideous aspect, 
were all I beheld; but both classes bestowed most un- 
equivocal signs of surprise at my country air and appear- 
ance, and to my question, where I could buy some bread 
and milk, answers the most cynical or evasive were 
returned. "While I was yet endeavouring to obtain from 
one of the ancient handmaidens some information on the 
point, two young men, with velvet caps and velvet capes 
on their gowns, stopped to listen. 

' I say, friend,' cried one, seemingly the younger of the 
two, ' when did you enter ? ' 

' This morning,' said I, taking the question literally. 

'Do you hear that, Ward?' continued he to his 
companion. ' What place did you take ? ' 



CON CREGAN 39 

' I was on the roof,' replied I, supposing the inquiry- 
bore allusion to the mode of my coming. 

' Quite classical,' said the elder, a tall, good-looking 
youth ; ' you came as did Csesar into Gaul, summa diligentid, 
on the top of the diligence.' 

They both laughed heartily at a very threadbare 
college joke, and were about to move away, when the 
younger, turning round, said, ' Have you matriculated ? ' 

1 No, sir— what 's that ? ' 

' It 's a little ceremony,' interposed the elder, ' necessary, 
and indeed indispensable, to every one coming to reside 
within these walls. You've heard of Napoleon, I dare- 



say 



? 



' Boney, is it ? ' asked I, giving the more familiar title by 
which he was better known to my circle of acquaintance. 

'Exactly,' said he, 'Boney. Now Boney used to call a 
first battle the baptism of Glory; so may we style, in a 
like way, Matriculation to be the baptism of Knowledge. 
You understand me, eh ? ' 

' Not all out,' said I, ' but partly.' 

' We '11 illustrate by a diagram, then.' 

'I say, Bob,' whispered the younger, 'let us find out 
with whom he is ' ; then turning to me, said, ' Where do 
you live here ? ' 

' Yonder,' said I, ' where that lamp is.' 

' Mr. Lyndsay's chambers ? ' 

' Yes, sir.' 

'All right,' cried the younger; 'we'll show you the 
secret of matriculation.' 

'Come along, my young friend,' said the elder, in the 
same pompous tone he had used at first, ' let us teach you 
to drink of that Pierian spring which Labitur et labetur 
in ounne volubilis mvum? 

I believe it was the fluent use of the unknown tongue 
which at once allayed any mistrust I might have felt of 
my new acquaintances ; however that may be, there was 
something so imposing in the high-sounding syllables that 



40 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

I yielded at once, and followed them into another and 
more remote quadrangle. 

Here they stopped under a window, while one gave a 
loud whistle with his fingers to his lips; the sash was 
immediately thrown up, and a handsome, merry-looking 
face protruded. 'Eh! — what! — Taylor and Ward!' cried 
he ; ' what 's going on ? ' 

' Come down, Burton ; here 's a youth for matriculation,' 
cried the younger. 

' All right,' cried the other. ' There are eight of us here 
at breakfast'; and disappearing from the window, he 
speedily descended to the court, followed by a number of 
others, who gravely saluted me with a deep bow, and 
solemnly welcomed me within the classic precincts of old 
Trinity. 

-- Domine — what 's his name ? ' said the young gentleman 
called Burton. 

'Cregan, sir,' replied I, already flattered by the atten- 
tions I was receiving, ' Con Cregan, sir.' 

' Well, Domine Cregan, come along with us, and never 
put faith in a junior sophister. You know what a junior 
sophister is, I trust ? ' 

■ No, sir.' 

'Tell him, Ward.' 

' A junior sophister,' Mr. Cregan, ' is one who, being in 
" Locke " all day, is very often locked out all night, and 
who observes the two rubrics of the statute de vigilantibus 
et lucentibus, by extinguishing both lamps and watchmen.' 

' Confound your pedantry,' broke in Burton : ' a junior 
soph, is a man in his ninth examination.' 

' The terror of the porters,' cried one. 

' The Dean's milch cow,' added another. 

' A credit to his parents, but a debtor to his tailor,' 
broke in a third. 

' Seldom at Greek lecture, but no fellow-commoner at 
the Curragh,' lisped out Taylor ; and by this time we had 
reached a narrow lane, flanked on one side by a tall 



40 



'■ ! CO, 

■ 

«Iow, while 
ith his fingers t< 

•, inerry 
ed. 'Eh!- Ward!' cried 

' C 

i 






1 riculation,' 

3 here 
low, he 

er of 






tleman 

•red by the atten- 
ir.' 

:>.g with us, and never 
u know what a junior 






broi 

'Seldon 
the Curragh 

hed a nam 



ailor,' 

ter at 
we had 
ride by a 




■ #: 



o 



CON CREGAN 41 

building of gloomy exterior, and on the other by an angle 
of the square. 

' Here we are, Mr. Cregan ; as the poet says, " this is the 
place, the centre of the wood." ' 

' Gentlemen sponsors, to your functions ! ' Scarce were 
the words out, when I was seized by above half-a-dozen 
pair of strong hands ; my legs were suddenly jerked 
upwards, and, notwithstanding my attempts to resist, I 
was borne along for some yards at a brisk pace. I was 
already about to forbear my struggles, and suffer them to 
play their — as I deemed it — harmless joke in quiet, when 
straight in front of me I saw an enormous pump, at 
which, and by a double handle, Burton and another were 
working away like sailors on a wreck, throwing forth, 
above a yard off, a jet of water almost enough to turn a 
miU. 

The whole plot now revealed itself to me at once, and I 
commenced a series of kickings and plungings that almost 
left me free. My enemies, however, were too many and 
too powerful ; on they bore me, and in a perfect storm of 
blows, lunges, writhings, and boundings, they held me fast 
under the stream, which played away in a frothy current 
over my head, face, chest, and legs — for, with a most 
laudable impartiality, they moved me from side to side, 
till not a dry spot remained on my whole body. 

I shouted, I yelled, I swore, and screamed for aid, but 
all in vain ; and my diabolical tormentors seemed to feel 
no touch of weariness in their inhuman pastime ; while I, 
exhausted by my struggles, and the continual rush of the 
falling water, almost ceased to resist ; when suddenly a cry 
of ' The Dean ! the Dean ! ' was heard. My bearers let go 
their hold — down I tumbled upon the flags, with barely 
consciousness enough to see the scampering crew flying in 
all directions, while a host of porters followed them in hot 
pursuit. 

' Who are you, sir ? What brought you here ? ' said a 
tall old gentleman I at once surmised to be the Dean. 



42 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

' The devil himself, I believe ! ' replied I, rising with 
difficulty under the weight of my soaked garments. 

1 Turn him outside the gates, Hawkins ! ' said the Dean 
to a porter behind him. ' Take care, too, he never re-enters 
them.' 

' I '11 take good care of it, sir,' said the fellow, as with 
one strong hand on my collar, and the closed fingers of 
the other administering gentle admonitions to the back of 
my head, he proceeded to march me before him through 
the square; revolving as I went thoughts, which, certes, 
evinced not one sentiment of gratitude to the learned 
university. 

My college career was, therefore, more brief than 
brilliant, for I was ' expelled ' on the very same day that 
I ' entered.' 

With the ' world before me where to choose,' I stepped 
out into the classic precincts of College Green, fully 
assured of one fact, that ' Town ' could scarcely treat me 
more harshly than ' Grown.' I felt, too, that I had passed 
through a kind of ordeal ; that my ducking, like the 
ceremonies on crossing the line, was a kind of masonic 
ordinance, indispensable to my opening career; and that 
thus I had got successfully through one at least of my 
' trials.' 

A species of filial instinct suggested to me the propriety 
of seeing Newgate, where my father lay, awaiting the 
arrival of the convict ship that was to convey him to Van 
Diemen's Land ; and thither I accordingly repaired, not to 
enter, but simply to gaze, with a very awestruck imagina- 
tion, upon that double-barred cage of human ferocity and 
crime. 

In itself the circumstance has nothing worthy of record, 
nor should I mention it, save that to the deep impression 
of that morning do I owe a certain shrinking horror of all 
great crime ; that impression has been of incalculable 
benefit to me through life. 

I strained my eyes to mark if, amid the faces closely 



CON CREGAN 



43 



pressed against the strong bars, I could recognise that of 
my parent, but in vain ; there was a terrible sameness in 
their features, as if the individual had sunk in the criminal, 
that left all discrimination difficult ; and so I turned away, 
satisfied that I had done a son's part most completely. 




A PEEP AT 'HIGH AND LOW COMPANY 

I have often heard it observed, that one has as little to do 
with the choice of his mode of life as with the name he 
receives at baptism. I rather incline to the opinion that 
this is true. My own very varied and somewhat dissimilar 
occupations were certainly far less the result of any pre- 
conceived plan or scheme than the mere ' turn-up ' of the 
rolling die of Fortune. 

It was while revolving a species of fatalism in this wise, 
and calmly assuring myself that I was not born to be 



44 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

starved, that I strolled along Merrion Square on the same 
afternoon of my expulsion from Trinity and visit to 
Newgate. 

There were brilliant equipages, cavaliers, and ladies 
on horseback ; handsome houses, with balconies often 
thronged by attractive-looking occupants ; and vast crowds 
of gaily dressed persons promenaded within the square 
itself, where a military band performed ; in fact, there was 
more than enough to interest and amuse one of higher 
pretensions in the scale of pleasure than myself. 

While I was thus gazing on this brilliant panorama of 
the outdoor life of a great city, and wondering and guess- 
ing what precise object thus brought people together — for 
no feature of a market, or a fair, or any festive occupation 
solved the difficulty — I was struck by a class of characters 
who seemed to play the subordinate parts of the drama — a 
set of ragged, ill-fed, half-starved boys, who followed in 
crowds each new arrival on horseback, and eagerly sought 
permission to hold his horse when he dismounted; the 
contrast of these mangy-looking attendants to the glossy- 
coated and handsomely caparisoned steeds they led about 
being too remarkable to escape notice. Although a very 
fierce rivalry prevailed amongst them, they seemed a 
species of organised guild, who constituted a distinct walk 
in life, and indignantly resented the attempt of some two or 
three 'voluntaries' who showed a wish to join the fraternity. 

I sat against the rails of the square, studying with some 
curiosity little details of their etiquette, and their strange 
conventionalities. A regular corps of them stood in front 
of me, canvassing with all the eager volubility of their 
craft for the possession of a handsome thoroughbred pony, 
from which a young officer, in a cavalry undress, was 
about to dismount. 

' I 'm your own boy, captain ! I 'm Tim, sir ! ' cried one, 
with a leer of most familiar intimacy. 

''Tis me towld you about Miss 0' Grady, sir,' shouted 
another, preferring another and stronger claim. 



CON CREGAN 45 

' I 'm the boy caught your mare the day you was thrown, 
captain ! ' insinuated a third, exhibiting a want of tact in 
the reminiscence that drew down many a scoff upon him 
from his fellows ; for these ragged and starving curs had a 
most lively sense of the use of flattery. 

' Off with you !— stand off ! ' said the young dragoon, 
in a threatening tone, ' let that fellow take my mare ' ; and 
he pointed to me, as I sat a patient but unconcerned 
spectator of the scene. Had a medical consultation been 
suddenly set aside on the eve of a great surgical operation, 
and the 'knife' committed to the unpractised hand of a 
new bystander, the breach of etiquette and the surprise 
could scarce have been greater. The gang stared at me 
with most undisguised contempt, and a perfect volley of 
abuse and irony followed me as I hastened to obey the 
summons. 

It has been very often my fortune in life to take a 
position for which I neither had submitted to the usual 
probationary study, nor possessed the necessary acquire- 
ment ; but I believe this my first step in the very humble 
walk of a ' horse-boy ' gave me more pain than ever did 
any subsequent one. The criticisms on my dress, my walk, 
my country look, my very shoes — my critics wore none— 
were all poignant and bitter ; and I verily believe, such is 
the force of ridicule, I should have preferred the rags and 
squalor of the initiated, at that moment, to the warm 
grey frieze and blue worsted stockings of my country 
costume. 

I listened attentively to the young officer's directions how 
I was to walk his mare, and where ; and then assuming 
a degree of indifference to sarcasm I was far from feel- 
ing, moved away from the spot in sombre dignity. The 
captain — the title is generic — was absent about an hour; 
and when he returned seemed so well pleased with my 
strict obedience to his orders, that he gave me a shilling, 
and desired me to be punctually at the same hour and the 
same place on the day following. 



46 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

It was now dark ; the lamplighter had begun his rounds, 
and I was just congratulating myself that I should escape 
my persecutors, when I saw them approaching in a body. 
In an instant I was surrounded, and assailed with a torrent 
of questions, as to who I was — where I came from — what 
brought me there — and lastly, and with more eagerness 
than all besides — what did ' the captain ' give me ? As I 
answered this query first, the others were not pressed ; 
and it being voted that I should expend the money on the 
fraternity, by way of entrance-fee, or, as they termed it, 
' paying my footing,' away we set in a body to a distant 
part of the town, remote from all its better and more 
spacious thoroughfares, and among a chaos of lanes and 
alleys, called the 'Liberties.' If the title were conferred 
for the excessive and unlimited freedoms permitted to the 
inhabitants, it was no misnomer. On my very entrance 
into it I perceived the perfect free-and-easy tone which 
prevailed. 

A dense tide of population thronged the close, confined 
passages — mostly hodmen, bricklayers' labourers, and 
scavengers, with old clothesmen, beggars, and others 
whose rollicking air and daring look bespoke more 
hazardous modes of life. 

My companions wended their way through the dense 
throng like practised travellers, often cutting off an angle 
by a dive through the two doors of a whisky-shop, and 
occasionally making a great short -cut by penetrating 
through a house and the court behind it — little exploits 
in geography expiated by a volley of curses from the occu- 
pants, and sometimes an admonitory brickbat in addition. 

The uniform good temper they exhibited ; the easy 
freedom with which they submitted to the rather rough 
jocularities of the passers-by — the usual salute being a 
smart slap on the crown of the head, administered by the 
handicraft tool of the individual, and this sometimes being 
an iron trowel, or a slater's hammer — could not but exalt 
them in my esteem as the most patient set of varlets I had 



CON CREGAN 47 

ever sojourned with. To my question as to why we were 
going so far, and whither our journey tended, I got for 
answer the one short reply — 'We must go to " ould 
Betty's." ' 

Now as I would willingly spare as much of this period's 
recital to my reader as I can, I will content myself with 
stating that ' ould Betty,' or Betty Cobbe, was an old lady 
who kept a species of ordinary for the unclaimed youth of 
Dublin. They were fed and educated at her seminary — 
the washing cost little, and they were certainly ' done ' for 
at the very smallest cost, and in the most remarkably brief 
space of time. If ever these faint memorials of a life 
should be read in a certain far-off land, more than one 
settler in the distant bush, more than one angler in the 
dull stream of Swan River, will confess how many of his 
first sharp notions of life and manners were imbibed from 
the training nurture of Mrs. Elizabeth Cobbe. 

Betty's proceedings, for some years before I had the 
honour and felicity of her acquaintance, had attracted 
towards her the attention of the authorities. 

The Colonial Secretary had possibly grown jealous ; for 
she had been pushing emigration to Norfolk Island on a 
far wider scale than ever a Cabinet dreamed of ; and thus 
had she acquired what, in the polite language of our 
neighbours, is phrased the ' Surveillance of the Police ' — a 
watchful superintendence and anxious protectorate, for 
which, I grieve to say, she evinced the very reverse of 
gratitude. Betty had, in consequence, and in requirement 
with the spirit of the times — the most capricious spirit 
that ever vexed plain old-fashioned mortals — reformed her 
establishment ; and from having opened her doors, as 
before, to what, in the language of East Indian advertise- 
ments, are called 'a few spirited young men,' she had 
fallen down to that small fry who, in various disguises of 
vagrancy and vagabondage, invest the highways of a 
capital. 

By these disciples she was revered and venerated ; their 



48 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

devotion was the compensation for the world's neglect, 
and so she felt it. To train them up with a due regard to 
the faults and follies of their better-endowed neighbours 
was her aim and object, and to such teaching her know- 
ledge of Dublin life and people largely contributed. 

Her original walk had been minstrelsy; she was the 
famous ballad-singer of Drogheda Street, in the year 
of the rebellion of '98. She had been half-a-dozen 
times imprisoned — some said that she had even visited 
1 Beresford's riding-school,' where the knout was in daily 
practice, but this is not so clear — certain it is, both her 
songs and sympathy had always been on the patriotic 
side. She was the terror of Protestant ascendency for 
many a year long. 

Like Homer, she sang her own verses ; or, if they were 
made for her, the secret of the authorship was never 
divulged. For several years previous to the time I now 
speak of, she had abandoned the Muses — save on some 
special and striking occasions, when she would come 
before the world with some lyric, which, however, did 
little more than bear the name of its once famed composer. 

So much for the past. Now to the present history of 
Betty Cobbe. 

In a large unceilinged room, with a great fire blazing 
on the hearth, over which a huge pot of potatoes was 
boiling, sat Betty in a straw chair. She was evidently 
very old, as her snow-white hair and lustreless eye bespoke ; 
but the fire of a truculent, unyielding spirit still warmed 
her blood, and the sharp ringing voice told that she was 
decided to wrestle for existence to the last, and would 
never ' give in ' until fairly conquered. 

Betty's chair was the only one in the chamber ; the rest 
of the company disposed themselves classically in the re- 
cumbent posture, or sat, like primitive Christians, cross- 
legged. A long deal table, sparingly provided with wooden 
plates and a few spoons, occupied the middle of the room, 
and round the walls were several small bundles of straw, 



CON CREGAN 49 

which I soon learned were the property of private 
individuals. 

' Come along, till I show you to ould Betty,' said one of 
the varlets to me, as he pushed his way through the 
crowded room ; for already several other gangs had 
arrived, and were exchanging recognitions. 

'She's in a sweet temper, this evening,' whispered 
another, as we passed. ' The polis was here a while ago, 
and took up " Denny White," and threatened to break up 
the whole establishment.' 

' The devil a thing at all they '11 lave us of our institu- 
shuns,' said a bow-legged little blackguard, with the 
Evening Freeman written round his hat — for he was an 
attache of that journal. 

' Ould Betty was crying all the evening,' said the former 
speaker. By this time we had gained the side of the fire- 
place where the old lady sat. 

' Mother ! mother, I say ! ' cried my guide, touching her 
elbow gently ; then stooping to her ear, he added, ' Mother 
Betty!' 

' Eh ! Who 's callin' me ? ' said the hag, with her hand 
aloft. ' I 'm here, my lord, neither ashamed nor af eard to 
say my name.' 

' She 's wanderin,' cried another ; ' she thinks she 's in 
coort.' 

1 Betty Cobbe ! I say. It 's me ! ' said my introducer, 
once more. 

The old woman turned fiercely round, and her dimmed 
and glassy eyes, bloodshot from excess and passion, seemed 
to flare up into an angry gleam, as she said, ' You dirty 
thief ! is it you that 's turnin' informer agin me — you that 
I took up out of yer mother's arms, in Green Street, 
when she fainted at the cutting down of yer father? 
Your father,' added she, ' that murdered old Meredith ! ' 

The boy, a hardened and bold-featured fellow, became 
lividly pale, but never spoke. 

' Yes, my lord,' continued she, still following the theme 
13 D 



50 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

of her own wild fancies; 'it's James Butterley's boy! 
Butterley that was hanged!' and she shook and rocked 
with a fiendish exultation at the exposure. 

' Many of us doesn't know what bekem of our fathers ! ' 
said a sly-looking, old-fashioned creature, whose height 
scarcely exceeded two feet, although evidently near man- 
hood in point of age. 

• Who was yours, Mickey ? ' cried one imp. 

' And yours ? ' said another, dragging me forward 
directly in front of Betty. 

' Con Cregan, of Kilbeggan,' said I boldly. 

' Success to you, ma bouchal ! ' said the old hag ; ' and so 
you 're a son of Con, the informer ? ' She looked sternly at 
me for a few seconds, and then in a slower and more 
deliberate tone added, ' I 'm forty years, last Lady Day, 
living this way, and keepin' company with all sorts of 
thieves, and rogues, and blaguards, and worse — ay, far 
worse besides ; but may I never see Glory if an informer, 
or his brat, was under the roof afore ! ' 

The steadfast decision of look and voice as she spoke 
seemed to impress the bystanders, who fell back and gazed 
at me with that kind of shrinking terror which honest 
people sometimes exhibit at the contact of a criminal. 

During the pause of some seconds, while this endured, 
my sense of abject debasement was at the very lowest. 
To be the Pariah of such a society was indeed a most 
distinctive infamy. 

'Are you ashamed of yer father? tell me that!' cried 
the hag, shaking me roughly by one shoulder. 

'It is not here, and before the like of these,' said I, 
looking round at the ragged, unwashed assemblage, ' that 
I should feel shame ! or if I did, it is to find myself among 
them ! ' 

' That 's my boy ! that 's my own spirited boy ! ' cried the 
old woman, dragging me towards her. 'Faix, I seen the 
time we'd have made somethin' out of you. Howld yer 
tongues, ye vagabonds; the child 's right — ye 're a dirty mean 



CON CREGAN 51 

crew! Them!' said she, pointing to me; 'them was the 
kind of chaps I used to have long ago, that wasn't afeared 
of all the Beresfords, and Major Sirr, and the rest of them. 
Singing every night on Carlisle Bridge, "The wearin' of 
the Green," or "Tra-lal-la, the French is coming"; and 
when they wor big and grown men, ready and willing to 
turn out for ould Ireland. Can you read, avick ? ' 

' Yes, and write,' answered I proudly. 

' To be sure you can,' muttered she, half to herself ; ' is it 
an informer's child — not know the first rules of his trade ! ' 

' Tare-an'-ages, mother!' cried out the decrepit imp 
called Mickey ; ' we 're starvin' for the meat ! ' 

' Sarve it up ! ' shouted the hag, with a voice of command ; 
and she gave three knocks with her crutch on the corner 
of the table. 

Never was command more promptly obeyed. A savoury 
mess of that smoking compound, called 'Irish stew,' was 
ladled out on the trenchers, and speedily disposed around 
the table, which at once was surrounded by the guests — a 
place being made for myself by an admonitory stroke of 
Betty's crutch on the red head of a very hungry juvenile, 
who had jostled me in his anxiety to get near the table. 

Our meal had scarcely drawn to its close, when the 
plates were removed, and preparations made for a new 
party ; nor had I time to ask the reason, when a noisy buzz 
of voices without announced the coming of a numerous 
throng. In an instant they entered ; a number of girls, of 
every age, from mere child to womanhood — a ragged, 
tattered, reckless-looking set of creatures, whose wild high 
spirits not even direct poverty could subdue. While some 
exchanged greetings with their friends of the other sex, 
others advanced to talk to Betty, or stood to warm them- 
selves around the fire, until their supper, a similar one to 
our own, was got ready. My curiosity as to whence they 
came in such a body was satisfied by learning that they 
were employed at the 'Mendicity Institution' during the 
day, and set free at nightfall to follow the bent of their 



52 THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 

own, not over well-regulated, tastes. These creatures 
were the ballad-singers of the city ; and sometimes alone, 
sometimes in company with one of the boys, they were 
wont to take their stand in some public throughfare, not 
only the character of the singer, but the poetry itself 
taking the tone of the street ; so that while some daring 
bit of town scandal caught the ears of College Green, a 
' bloody murder,' or a ' dying speech,' formed the attraction 
of Thomas Street and the ' Poddle.' 

Many years afterwards, in the chequered page of my 
existence, when I have sat at lordly tables and listened to 
the sharpened wit and polished raillery of the high-born 
and the gifted, my mind has often reverted to that beggar- 
horde, and thought how readily the cutting jest was 
answered, how soon repartee followed attack — what 
quaint fancies, what droll conceits passed through those 
brains, where one would have deemed there was no room 
for ought save brooding guilt and sad repining ! 

As night closed in, the assembly broke up ; some issued 
forth to their stations as ballad-singers; some in pure 
vagabond spirit to stroll about the streets ; while others, 
of whom I was one, lay down upon the straw to sleep, 
without a dream, till daylight. 











' VIEWS OF LIFE ' 



'HEN I woke the next morning, it 
was a few minutes before I could 
thoroughly remember where I was, 
and how I came there ; my next 
thought was the grateful one that 
if the calling "was not a very ex- 
alted one, I had at least secured 
a mode of living, and that my 
natural acuteness, and better still, 
my fixed resolve within me ' to get 

forward in the world,' would not permit me to pass my 

days in the ignoble craft of a horse-boy. 

I found that the 'walk,' like every other career, had 

certain guiding rules and principles by which it was 

regulated. Not only were certain parts of the town 



54 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

interdicted to certain gangs, but it was a recognised rule 
that when a particular boy was singled out, habitually, 
by any gentleman, that no other should endeavour to 
supplant him. This was the less difficult, as a perfect 
community of property was the rule of the order ; and all 
moneys were each night committed to the charge of old 
Betty, with a scrupulous fidelity that would have shamed 
many a joint-stock company. 

The regular etiquette required that each youth should 
begin his career on the north side of the city, where the 
class of horsemen was of a less distinguished order, and 
the fees proportionably lower. Thence he was promoted 
to the Four Courts ; from which, as the highest stage, he 
arrived at Merrion Square and its neighbourhood. Here 
the visitors were either the young officers of the garrison, 
the Castle officials, or a wealthy class of country gentlemen, 
all of whom gave sixpences ; while, in the cold quarter of 
northern Dublin, pennypieces were the only currency. If 
the public differed in these three places, so did the claims 
of the aspirant — a grave, quiet, almost sombre look being 
the grand qualification in the one ; while an air of daring 
effrontery was the best recommendation in the other. 
For while the master in chancery or the ' six clerk ' would 
only commit his bob-tailed pony to a discreet-faced varlet 
of grave exterior, the dashing aide-de-camp on his 
thoroughbred singled out the wild imp with roguish eye 
and flowing hair, that kept up with him from the barrack 
in a sharp canter, and actually dived under a carriage-pole, 
and upset an apple-stall, to be ' up ' in time to wait on him, 
and while yet breathless and blown, was ready with 
voluble tongue to give him the current news of the 
neighbourhood — who was in the square, or out dining; 
who had arrived, or why they were absent. To do this 
task with dexterity and tact was the crowning feature of 
the craft, and in such hasty journalism some attained a 
high proficiency — seasoning their scandal with sly bits of 
drollery, or quaint allusions to the current topics of the 



CON CREGAN 55 

day. To succeed in this, it was necessary to know the 
leading characters of the town, and the circumstances of 
their private history ; and these I set myself to learn with 
the assiduity of a study. Never did a Bath Master of the 
Ceremonies devote himself more ardently to the investiga- 
tion of the faults and foibles of his company — never did 
young lady, before coming out, more patiently pore over 
Debrett, than did I pursue my researches into Dublin life 
and manners ; until at last, what between oral evidence 
and shrewd observation, I had a key to the secret mysteries 
of nearly every well-known house in the city. 

None like me to explain why the father of the dashing 
family in Stephen's Green only appeared of a Sunday ; 
how the blinds of No. 18 were always drawn down at three 
o'clock ; and what meant the hackney-coach at the canal 
bridge every Thursday afternoon. From the gentleman 
that always wore a geranium leaf in his coat, to the lady 
who dropped her glove in the square, I knew them all. 
Nor was it merely that I possessed the knowledge, but I 
made it to be felt. I did not hoard my wealth like a miser, 
but I came forth like a great capitalist to stimulate enter- 
prise and encourage credit. Had I been a malicious spirit, 
there is no saying what amount of mischief I might have 
worked — what discoveries anticipated — what awkward 
meetings effected. I was, however, what the French call 
a bon diable, and most generously took the side of the 
poor sinner against the strong spirit of right. How many 
a poor subaltern had been put in arrest for wearing 
' mufti,' had I not been there to apprise him the town- 
major White was coming. How often have I saved a poor 
college-man from a heavy fine, who, with his name on the 
sick-list, was flirting in the square. How have I hastened, 
at the risk of my neck, between crashing carriages and 
prancing horses, to announce to a fair lady lounging in her 
britzska that the counsellor, her husband, was unex- 
pectedly returning from court an hour earlier than his 
wont. I have rescued sons from fathers, daughters from 



56 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

mothers ; the pupil from his guardian, the debtor from 
his creditor — in a word, I was a kind of ragged guardian 
angel, who watched over the peccadillos of the capital. 
My amour propre — if such an expression of such a quality 
may be conceded to one like me — was interested in the 
cause of all who did wrong. I was the Quixote of all 
deceivers. 

With ' Con on the lookout,' none feared surprise ; and 
while my shrewdness was known to be first-rate, my 
honesty was alike unimpeachable. It may readily be 
believed how, with acquirements and talents like these, I 
no longer pursued the humble walk of horse - holder ; 
indeed, I rarely touched a bridle, or if I did so, it was 
only to account for my presence in such localities as I 
might need an excuse to loiter in. I was at the head 
of my profession ; and the ordinary salutation of the 
cavaliers, ' Con, get me a fellow to hold this mare,' showed 
that none presumed to expect the ignoble service at my 
own hands. 

To some two or three of my early patrons, men who 
had noticed me in my obscurity, I would still condescend 
to yield this attention — a degree of grateful acknowledg- 
ment on my part which they always rewarded most 
handsomely. Among these was the young officer whose 
pony I had held on the first night of my arrival. He was 
an Honourable Captain De Courcy, very well-looking, 
well-mannered, and very poor — member of the Com- 
mander-in-Chief's Staff, who eked out his life by the aid 
of his noble birth and his wits together. 

At the time I speak of, his visits to Merrion Square 
were devoted to the cause of a certain Mrs. Mansergh, the 
young and beautiful wife of an old, red-faced, foul- 
mouthed Queen's Counsel, at least forty years her senior. 
The scandal was, that her origin had been of the very 
humblest, and that, seen by accident on circuit, she had 
caught the fancy of the old lawyer, a well-known con- 
noisseur in female beauty. However that might be, she 



CON CREGAN 57 

was now about two years married, and already recognised 
as the reigning beauty of the viceregal court and the 
capital. 

The circumstances of her history, her low origin, her 
beauty, and the bold game she played — all invested her 
with a great interest in my eyes. I used to flatter myself 
that there was a kind of similarity in at least our early 
fortunes ; and I enlisted myself in her cause with an 
ardour that I could not explain to myself. How often, as 
she passed in her splendid barouche — the best-appointed 
and handsomest equipage of the capital — have I watched 
her, as, "wrapped in her Cashmere, she reclined in all the 
voluptuous indolence of her queenly state, glorying to 
think that she — she, whose proud glance scarce noticed 
the obsequious throng that bowed with uncovered heads 
around her — was, perhaps, not better nurtured than myself. 
Far from envious jealousy at her better fortune, I exulted 
in it ; she was a kind of beacon set on a hill to guide and 
cheer me. I remember well, it was an actual triumph to 
me one day, as the Viceroy, a gay and dashing nobleman, 
not over-scrupulous where the claim of beauty was present, 
stopped, with all his glittering staff, beside her carriage, 
and in playful raillery began to chide her for being 
absent from the last drawing-room. ' We missed you sadly, 
Mrs. Mansergh,' said he, smiling his most seductive smile. 
'Pray tell my friend Mansergh that he shows himself a 
most lukewarm supporter of the Government, who denies 
us the fairest smiles of the capital.' 

' In truth, my lord, he would not give me a new train, 
and I refused to wear the old one,' said she, laughing. 

'Downright disloyalty, upon my honour,' said the 
Viceroy, with well-got-up gravity. 

' Don't you think so, my lord ? ' rejoined she ; ' so I even 
told him that I 'd represent the case to your Excellency, 
who, I 'm sure, would not refuse a velvet robe to the wife, 
while you gave a silk gown to the husband.' 

' It will be the very proudest of my poor prerogatives,' 



58 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

said he, bowing, while a flash of crimson lit up his pleased 
features. ' Your favourite colour is ' 

' I should like to wear your lordship's,' said she, with a 
look the most finished coquette might envy, so admirably 
blended were trust and timid bashfulness. 

What he replied I could not catch. There was a flatter- 
ing courtesy, however, in his smile, and in the familiar 
motion of the hand with which he bade good-bye, that 
were enough to show me that he, the haughty mirror of 
his sovereign, did not think it beneath him to bandy 
compliments and exchange soft looks with the once 
humble beauty. From that time out my whole thoughts 
day and night were centred in her; and I have passed 
hours long, fancying all the possible fortunes for which 
destiny might intend her. It seemed to me as though 
she was piloting out the course for me in life, and that 
her success was the earnest of my own. Often when 
a ball or a great reception was given by her, have I sat, 
cold, shivering, and hungry, opposite the house, watching 
with thrilling interest all the equipages as they came, and 
hearing the high and titled names called aloud by the 
servants, and thinking to myself, ' Such are her associates 
noiv. These great and haughty personages are here to do 
honour to her, their lovely hostess ; and she, but a few 
years back, if report spoke truly, was scarcely better off 
than I was — I — myself.' 

Only they who have a sanguine, hopeful temperament 
will be able to understand how the poor, houseless, friend- 
less boy — the outcast of the world — the convict's child — 
could ever dare to indulge in such daydreams of future 
greatness. But I had set the goal before my eyes — the 
intermediate steps to it I left to fortune. The noble bear- 
ing and polished graces of the high and wealthy, which 
to my humble associates seemed the actual birthright of 
the great, I perceived could all be acquired. There was no 
prescriptive claim in any class to the manners of high 
breeding; and why should not I, if fortune favoured, be 



CON CREGAN 59 

as good a gentleman as the best? In other particulars, 
all that I had observed showed me no wondrous dis- 
similarity of true feeling in the two classes. The gentle- 
man, to be sure, did not swear, like the common fellow; 
but on the racecourse or the betting-ground I had seen, 
to the full, as much deceit as ever I witnessed in my own 
order. There was faithlessness beneath Valenciennes lace 
and velvet as well as beneath brown stuff and check ; and 
a spirit of backbiting, that we ragged folk knew nothing 
of, seemed a current pastime in better circles. 

What, then, should debar me from that class ? Not the 
manners, which I could feign, nor the vices, which I could 
feel. To be like them, was only to be of them — such, at 
least, was then my conviction and my theory. 

Any one who will take the pains to reflect on and 
analyse the mode of thinking I have here mentioned will 
see how necessarily it tends rather to depress those above 
than to elevate those beneath. I did not purpose to myself 
any education in high and noble sentiments, but simply 
the performance of a part which I deemed easy to assume. 
The result soon began to tell. I felt a degree of contemptu- 
ous hatred for the very persons I had once revered as 
almost demigods. I no longer looked up to the 'gentleman' 
as such by right divine, but by accident ; and I fostered the 
feeling by the writings of every radical newspaper I could 
come at. All the levelling doctrines of socialism — all the 
plausibilities of equality — became as great truths to me ; 
and I found a most ready aptitude in my mind to square 
the fruits of my personal observations to these pleasant 
theories. The one question recurred every morning as I 
arose, and remained unanswered each night as I lay down, 
' Why should I hold a horse, and why should another man 
ride one ? ' I suppose the difficulty has puzzled wiser 
heads ; indeed, since I mooted it to myself, it has caused 
some trouble in the world ; nor, writing now as I do in 
the year of grace '48, do I suppose the question is yet 
answered. 



60 THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 

I have dwelt perhaps too long on this exposition of my 
feelings ; but as my subsequent life was one of far more 
action than reflection, the indulgent reader will pardon 
the prosiness, not simply as explaining the history which 
follows, but also as affording a small breathing-space in a 
career where there were few halts. 

I have said that I began to conceive a great grudge 
against all who were well-off in life, and against none did 
I indulge this aversion more strongly than ' the captain,' 
my first patron — almost my only one. Though he had 
always employed me — and none ever approached him save 
myself — he had never condescended to the slightest act 
of recognition beyond the tap on my head with his gold- 
mounted whip, and a significant nod where to lead his 
pony. No sign of his, no look, no gesture, ever confessed 
to the fact that I was a creature of his own species, that I 
had had a share in the great firm which, under the name 
of Adam and Co., has traded so long and industriously. 

If I were sick, or cold, or hungry, it mattered not — my 
cheek might be sunk with want or care — my rags might 
drip with rain, or freeze with sleet — he never noticed 
them ; yet if the wind played too roughly with his Arab's 
mane, or the silky tasselled tail, he saw it at once. If 
her coat stirred with the chill breeze, he would pat and 
pet her. It was evident enough which had the better 
existence. 

If these thoughts chafed and angered me at first, at 
least they served to animate and rouse my spirit. He who 
wants to rise in life must feel the sharp spur of a wrong — 
there is nothing like it to give vigour and energy to his 
motions. When I came to this conclusion, I did not wait 
long to put the feeling into action ; and it was thus — but 
a new chapter of my life deserves a new chapter of my 
history. 





(glK)&[P> c ?I& WDD. 

A BOLD STROKE FOR AN OPEN- 
ING IN THE WORLD 

S regular as the day itself did 
I wait at the corner of Merrion 
Square, at three o'clock, the 
arrival of Captain De Courcy, 
who was always punctual ; 
indeed, the clatter of the 
pony's hoofs, as he cantered 
along, usually announced the 
striking of the post-office clock. 
To dismount, and fling me the bridle, with a short nod 
of the head in the direction he wished me to walk the 
animal, was the extent of recognition ever vouchsafed me ; 
and as I never ventured upon even a word with him, our 



62 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

intercourse was of the simplest possible kind. There was 
an impassive quietude about his pale cold features that 
awed me. I never saw him smile but once ; it was when 
the mare seized me by the shoulder, and tore with her 
teeth a great piece of my ragged coat away. Then, indeed, 
he did vouchsafe to give a faint, listless smile, as he said to 
his pampered nag, ' Fie, fie ! What a dirty feeder you are ! ' 

Very little notice on his part — the merest act of recogni- 
tion, a look, a monosyllable, would have been enough to 
satisfy me — anything, in short, which might acknowledge 
that we were part of the same great chain, no matter 
how many links might lie between us. 

After three hours of a cold wait, on a rainy and dreary 
afternoon, the only solace to my hunger being the 
imaginative one of reflecting on the pleasure of those 
happy mortals who were sitting down to dinner in the 
various houses along the square, and fancying to myself 
the blessed state of tranquillity it must impart to a man's 
nature to see a meal of appetising excellence, from which 
no call of business, no demand of any kind, could with- 
draw him. And what speculations did I indulge in as 
to the genial pleasantry that must abound — the happy 
wit, the joyous ease of such gatherings when three or 
four carriages at a door would bespeak the company at 
such a dinner-party. 

At last, out came my captain, with a haste and flurry 
of manner quite unusual. He did not, as was his constant 
custom, pass his hand along the mare's neck, to feel her 
coat ; nor did he mutter a single word of coaxing to her 
as he mounted. He flung himself with a jerk into the 
saddle, and, rapping my knuckles sharply with the gold 
knob of his whip, pettishly cried, 'Let her go, sirrah!' 
and cantered away. I stood for some moments motionless, 
my mind in that strange state when the first thought of 
rebellion has entered, and the idea of reprisal has occurred. 
I was about to go away, when the drawing-room window, 
straight above me, was opened, and a lady stepped out 
upon the balcony. It was too dark to discern either her 



CON CREGAN 63 

features or her dress, but a certain instinct told me it 
was Mrs. Mansergh. ' Are you Captain De Courcy's boy ? ' 
said she, in a sweet and subdued voice. I replied in the 
affirmative, and she went on, 'You know his quarters at 
the Royal Hospital? Well, go there at once, as speedily 
as you can, and give him this note.' She hesitated for 
a second, as if uncertain what to say, and then added, 
1 It is a note he dropped from his pocket by accident.' 

'I'll do it, ma'am,' said I, catching the letter and the 
half-crown, which she had half inserted in the envelope 
to give it weight. ' You may trust me perfectly.' Before 
the words were well uttered, she had retired ; the window 
was closed, the curtain drawn, and, except the letter and 
the coin in my fingers, nothing remained to show that 
the whole had not been a trick of my foolish brain. 

My immediate impulse was to fulfil my mission. I even 
started off at full speed to do so; but as I turned the 
corner of the square, the glare of a bright gas -lamp 
suggested the temptation of, at least, a look at my 
despatches; and what was my astonishment to find that 
on this note, which had been dropped by ' accident ' from 
the captain's pocket, the superscription was scarcely dry 
— in the very act of catching I had blotted the words ! 
This, of course, was no affair of mine; but it evinced 
deception — and deception at certain moments becomes 
a dangerous injury. There are times when the mind feels 
deceit to be an outrage. The stormy passions of the 
fury- driven mob — reckless and headstrong — show this ; 
and the most terrible moment in all political convulsions 
is, when the people feel, or even suspect, that they have 
been tricked. My frame of mind was exactly in that 
critical stage. A minute before, I was ready to yield any 
obedience — tender any service ; and now, of a sudden — 
without the slightest real cause, or from anything which 
could in the remotest way affect me — I had become a 
rebel. Let the reader forgive the somewhat tedious 
analysis of a motive, since it comes from one who has long 
studied the science of moral chemistry, and made most 



64 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

of his experiments — as the rule directs — in ' ignoble 
bodies.' 

My whole resolve was changed. I would not deliver 
the note. Not that I had any precise idea wherefore, or 
that I had the least conception what other course I should 
adopt. I was a true disciple of revolt — I rebelled for 
very rebellion sake. 

Betty Cobbe's was more than usually brilliant on that 
evening. A race, which was to come off at Kingstown 
the next day, had attracted a numerous company — in 
the various walks of horse-boys, bill-carriers, and pick- 
pockets — all of whom hoped to find a ready harvest on 
the morrow. The conversation was, therefore, entirely 
of a sporting character. Anecdotes of the turf and the 
ring went round, and in the many curious devices of 
roguery and fraud might be read the prevailing taste of 
that select company. Combinations were also formed to 
raise the rate of payment, and many ingenious suggestions 
thrown out about turning cattle loose, slacking girths, 
stealing curb chains, and so on, from that antagonistic 
part of the public who preferred holding their horses 
themselves than intrusting them to the profession. 

The race itself, too, engrossed a great share of interest ; 
and a certain Fergusson was talked of with all the 
devotedness and affection of a dear friend. Nor, as I 
afterwards learned, was the admiration a merely blind 
one, as he was a most cunning adept in all the wily 
stratagems by which such men correct the wilful ways 
of Fortune. 

How my companions chuckled over stories of 'rotten 
ditches,' that were left purposely to betray the unwary ; 
swinging gates, that would open at the least touch, and 
inevitably catch the horse that attempted to clear — if the 
hoof but grazed them ; bog holes to swamp, and stone 
fences to smash — had their share of approval ; but a drain 
dug eight feet deep, and that must certainly break the 
back of the horse, if not of the rider also, who made a 



CON CREGAN 65 

' mistake ' over it, seemed the triumph, which carried away 
the suffrages of the whole assembly. 

Now, although I had seen far more of real sport and 
horsemanship than the others, these narratives were, for 
the most part, new to me ; and I listened with a high 
interest to every scheme and trick by which cunning can 
overreach and outmanoeuvre simplicity. The admiration 
of adroit knavery is the first step on the road to fraud, and 
he who laughs heartily at a clever trick seldom suspects 
how he is 'booking himself ' for the same road. For my own 
part, neither were my principles so fixed, nor my education 
so careful, that I did not conceive a very high respect for 
the rogue, and a very contemptuous disdain for his victim. 
Morning came, and a bright, sunny one it was, with a 
keen frost, and that kind of sharp air that invigorates and 
braces both mind and body. The crisp clear outline of 
every tree and building seen against the deep blue sky ; 
the sparkling river, with its clean bed of bright gravel ; 
and the ruddy faces one meets, are all of a nature to 
suggest pleasant and cheerful thoughts. Even we — we, 
with our frail garments and chapped hands, felt it, and 
there was an alacrity of movement and a bounding step, 
a gay laugh and a merry voice everywhere. All set out 
for Kingstown, in the neighbourhood of which the race 
was to come off. I alone remained behind, resisting every 
entreaty of my companions to join them. I cannot yet 
say why I did so. It was partly that long habit had made 
my attendance upon the captain a duty ; partly, perhaps, 
that some vague notion that the letter, of which I still kept 
possession, should be delivered by me at last. 

The town was quite empty on that day : not a carriage, 
nor a horseman to be seen. There were very few on foot, 
and the square was deserted of all, save its nursery popula- 
tion. I never felt a more tedious morning. I had full 
time, as I loitered along all alone, to contrast my solitude 
with the enjoyment my companions were at that same 
moment pursuing. 

13 E 



66 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

True to the instant, Captain de Courcy cantered up, his 
face a thought graver and more stern than I had ever 
seen it before. As he dismounted, my hand, in holding his 
stirrup, soiled the brilliant polish of his lacquered boot ; he 
perceived it, and rewarded my awkwardness with a smart 
cut of his whip. A minute before, I had made up my mind 
to give him the note ; now, torture itself would not have 
torn it from me. 

I followed him with my eyes till he entered the house — 
not over distinctly, it is true, for they were somewhat 
blinded by tears that would, in spite of me, come forth. 
The sensation was a most painful one ; and I am heartily 
glad to confess I have seldom experienced a recurrence of 
it. Scarcely was the hall door closed on him, when I 
remembered that he would soon hear of the note, which I 
had failed to deliver, and that, in all likelihood, a heavy 
punishment awaited me. My offence was a grave one : 
what was to be done ? Turn the mare loose and fly, 
or patiently await my fate ? Either were bad enough ; 
the latter certainly the less advisable of the two. A 
course soon suggested itself, doubtless inspired by that 
third most mischief -working adage, which says that 
one may be 'as well hanged for the sheep as the 
lamb.' 

I therefore voted for the ' larger animal,' and to satisfy 
myself that I was honest to my own convictions, I 
immediately proceeded to act upon them. I led the 
mare quietly along to the angle of the square, and then 
turning into the next street, I shortened the stirrups, 
mounted, and rode off. 

' Set a beggar on horseback ' says the proverb ; and 

although the consequence is only meant figuratively, I 
have a suspicion that it might bear a literal reading. 
I rode away, at first at a trot, and then, striking into 
a brisk canter, I took the road to Kingstown, whither, 
even yet, some horsemen were hastening. 

Every stride of the bounding animal elevated my 



CON CREGAN 67 

spirits and nerved my courage. The foot-passengers, 
that plodded wearily along, I looked down upon as 
inferior — with the horsemen on either side I felt a kind 
of equality. How differently does one view life from 
the saddle, and from the ground! The road became 
more thronged as I advanced, thicker crowds pressed 
eagerly forward, and numerous carriages obstructed the 
way. At another moment, perhaps, I should have at- 
tracted attention, but stranger sights were passing at 
every instant, and none troubled their heads about the 
1 ragged urchin on the thoroughbred.' 

The crowd at last became so dense that horsemen were 
fain to desert the highroad and take short cuts wherever 
an open gate, or an easily crossed fence, opened the way. 
Following a group of well-mounted gentlemen, I cleared 
a low wall into a spacious grass field, over which we 
cantered ; and beyond this, by leaping an easy ditch, into 
another of the same kind, till at length we saw the vast 
crowds that blackened a hill in front, and, beneath them, 
could distinguish the fluttering flags that marked the 
course, and the large floating standard of the winning- 
post. 

What a grand sight was that ! For what is so imposing 
a spectacle as vast myriads of people stirred by one 
interest and animated by one absorbing passion? Every 
one has nowadays seen something of the kind, therefore 
I shall not linger to tell of the impression it made upon 
my youthful senses. The first race had already come off ; 
but the second, and the great event of the day, was yet 
to take place. 

It was a steeplechase by 'gentlemen riders,' over a 
very severe line of country, several fences of most 
break-neck character having been added to the natural 
difficulties of the ground. 

Mounted on my splendid barb, I rode boldly forward 
till I reached the field through which the first ditch ran 
— a deep and wide trench, backed by a low rail — a very 



68 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

formidable leap, and requiring both stride and strength 
to clear it. 

'Some of 'em will tail off when they sees that!' said 
an English groom, with a knowing wink; and the words 
were only out, when, at a ' slapping canter,' the riders were 
seen coming down the gently sloping hill. Three rode 
nearly abreast, then came a single horseman, and, after 
him, an indiscriminate mass, whose bright and party- 
coloured jackets glowed like a rainbow. 

I watched them with a breathless interest. As they 
came nearer they widened the space between them, and 
each cast a rapid but stealthy glance at his neighbour. 
One — he rode a powerful black horse — took the lead, and 
dashing at the leap, his horse rose too soon, and fell, 
chested against the opposite bank, the rider under him; 
the next swerved suddenly round and balked; the third 
did the same; so that the leading horseman was now he 
who rode alone at first. Quickening his speed as he came 
on, he seemed actually to fly ; and when he did take the 
fence, it was like the bound of a cannon-shot — up, and 
over, at once ! Of the rest, some two or three followed 
well ; others pulled short up ; while the larger share, 
in various forms of accident and misfortune, might be 
seen either struggling in the brook or endeavouring to 
rescue their horses from the danger of broken legs and 
backs. 

I did not wait to watch them, my interest was in those 
who gallantly led onward, and who now, some four in 
number, rode almost abreast. Among these, my favourite 
was the sky-blue jacket, who had led the way over the 
dyke, and him did I follow with straining eyes and 
palpitating heart. They were at this moment advancing 
towards a wall — a high and strong one — and I thought, 
in the slackened pace, and more gathered -up stride, I 
could read the caution a difficult leap enforced. 

A brown jacket with white sleeves was the first to 
charge it ; and, after a tremendous scramble, in which the 



CON CREGAN 69 

wall, the horse, and the rider were all tumbling together, 
he got over; but the animal went dead lame, and the 
rider, dismounting, led him off the ground. 

Next came blue jacket, and just at the very rise, his 
mare balked, and, at the top of her speed, ran away along 
the side of the wall. A perfect roar of angry disappoint- 
ment arose from the multitude, for she was the favourite 
of the country-people, who were loudly indignant at this 
mischance. 

' The race is sold ! ' cried one. 

' Beatagh ' — this was the rider — ' pulled her round him- 
self ! the mare never was known to refuse a fence ! ' 

' I say you 're both wrong ! ' cried a third, whose excited 
manner showed he was no indifferent spectator of the 
scene. 'She never will take her first wall fairly; after 
that, she goes like a bird ! ' 

'What a confounded nuisance to think that no one 
will lead her over the fence ! Is there not one here will 
show her the way ? ' said he, looking around. 

'There's the only fellow I see whose neck can afford 
it!' said another, pointing to me. 'He, evidently, was 
never born to be killed in a steeplechase ! ' 

' Devilish well mounted he is, too ! ' remarked some one 
else. 

' Hallo, my smart boy ! ' said he who before alluded to 
the mare as a bolter ; ' try your nag over that wall yonder 
— go boldly. Let her have her head, and give her a 
sharp cut as she rises. Make way there, gentlemen ! Let 
the boy have fair-play, and I '11 wager a five-pound note he 
does it ! You shall have half the stakes, too, if you win ! ' 
added he. These were the last words I heard, for the 
crowd, clearing in front, opened for me to advance, and 
without a moment's hesitation of any kind, I dashed my 
heels to the mare's flanks and galloped forward. A loud 
shout, and a perfect shower of whips on the mare's quarter 
from the bystanders, put all question of pulling up beyond 
the reach of possibility. In a minute more I was at the 



70 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

"wall, and, ere I well knew, over it. A few seconds after, the 
blue jacket was beside me. ' "Well done, my lad ! You 've 
earned twenty guineas if I win the race ! Lead the way a 
bit, and let your mare choose her ground when she leaps.' 
This was all he said; but such words of encouragement 
never fell on my ears before. 

Before us were the others, now reduced to three in 
number, and evidently holding their stride and watching 
each other — never for a moment suspecting that the most 
feared competitor was fast creeping up behind them. One 
fence separated us, and over this I led again, sitting my 
mare with all the composure of an old steeplechaser. 
'Out of the way now,' cried my companion, 'and let me 
at them!' and he tore past me at a tremendous pace, 
shouting out as he went by the rest, 'Come along, my 
lads ! I '11 show the way ! ' 

And so he did ! With all their efforts, and they were 
bold ones, they never overtook him afterwards. His 
mare took each fence flying, and as her speed was much 
greater than the others, she came in full half a minute 
in advance. The others arrived altogether, crest-fallen 
and disappointed, and like all beaten men, receiving the 
most insulting comments from the mob, who are some- 
what keen critics on misfortune. I came last, for I had 
dropped behind when I was ordered; but unable to 
extricate my mare from the crowd, was compelled to 
ride the whole distance with the rest. If the losing 
horsemen were hooted and laughed at, my approach was 
a kind of triumphal entry. 'There's the chap that led 
over the wall! That little fellow rode the best of them 
all!' 'See that ragged boy on the small mare; he could 
beat the field this minute ! ' 

' 'Tis fifty guineas in goold you ought to have, my chap ! ' 
said another — a sentiment the unwashed on all sides 
seemed most heartily to subscribe to. 

' Be my soul, I 'd rather be lookin' at him than the 
gentlemen ! ' said a very tattered individual, with a coat 



CON CREGAN 71 

like a transparency. These, and a hundred similar 
comments, fell like hail-drops around ; and I believe, that 
in my momentary triumph, I actually forgot all the 
dangers and perils of my offence. 

It is a great occasion for rejoicing among the men of 
rags and wretchedness when a member of their own 
order has achieved anything like fame. The assertion of 
their ability to enter the lists with ' their betters ' is the 
very pleasantest of all flatteries. It is, so to say, a kind 
of skirmish before that great battle which, one day or 
other, remains to be fought between the two classes which 
divide mankind — those who have, and those who have 
not. 

I little suspected that I was, to use the cant so popular 
at present, 'the representative of a great principle' in 
my late success. I took all the praises bestowed, most 
literally, to myself, and shook hands with all the dirty 
and tattered mob, fully convinced that I was a very fine 
fellow. 

' Misther Beatagh wants to see the boy that led him over 
the ditch,' shouted out a huge, wide-shouldered, red-faced 
ruffian, as he shoved the crowd right and left, to make 
way for the approach of the gentleman who had just won 
the race. 

1 Stand up bowld, avick ! ' whispered one in my ear ; ' and 
don't be ashamed to ax for your reward.' 

' Say ten guineas ! ' muttered another. 

' No ; but twenty ! ' growled out a third. 

'And lashings of drink besides, for the present com- 
pany ! ' suggested a big-headed cripple about two feet high. 

' Are you the lad that took the fence before me ? ' cried 
out a smart -looking, red- whiskered young man, with a 
white surtout loosely thrown over his riding-costume. 

' Yes, sir,' I replied, half modestly and half assured. 

'Who are you, my boy? and where do you come from?' 

' He 's one of Betty Cobbe's chickens ! ' shouted out an 
old savage-faced beggar-man, who was terribly indignant 



72 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

at the great misdirection of public sympathy ; ' and a nice 
clutch they are ! ' 

'What is it to you, Dan, where the crayture gets his 
bread ! ' rejoined an old news vender, who, in all likelihood, 
had once been a parlour boarder in the same seminary. 

'Never mind them, but answer me, my lad!' said the 
gentleman. 'If you are willing to take service, and can 

find any one to recommend you ' 

' Sure we 11 all go bail for him — to any amount!' shouted 
out the little crippled fellow, from his ' bowl,' and certainly 
a most joyous burst of laughter ran through the crowd at 
the sentiment. 

' Maybe ye think I 'm not a householder,' rejoined the 
fellow, with a grin of assumed anger ; ' but haven't I my 
own sugar hogshead to live in, and devil receave the 
lodger in the same premises ! ' 

' I see there 's no chance of our being able to settle 
anything here,' said the gentleman. ' These good people 
think the matter more their own than ours ; so meet me 
to-morrow, my lad, at Dycer's, at twelve o'clock, and bring 
me anything that can speak for your character.' As he 
said these few words he brushed the crowd to one side 
with his whip, and forcing his way, with the air of a man 
who would not be denied, left the place. 

'And he's laving the crayture without givin' him a 
f arden ! ' cried one of the mob, who suddenly saw all the 
glorious fabric of a carouse and a drunken bout disappear 
like a mirage. 

' Oh the 'tarnal vagabond ! ' shouted another, more 
indignantly ; ' to desart the child that a- way ; and he that 
won the race for him ! ' 

'Will yez see the little crayture wronged?' said another, 
who appeared by his pretentious manner to be a practised 
street orator. 'Will yez lave the dissolute orphan' — he 
meant desolate — ' to be chayted out of his pater money ? 
Are yez men at all ? or are yez dirty slaves of the bloody 
'stokessy that 's murderin' ould Ireland ? ' 



CON CREGAN 73 

' We '11 take charge of the orphan, and of you too, my 
smart fellow, if you don't brush off pretty lively ! ' said a 
policeman, as, followed by two others, he pushed through 
the crowd with that cool determination that seems to be 
actually an instinct with them. Then laying a strong 
hand on my collar, he went on : ' How did you come by 
that mare, my lad ? ' 

'She belongs to Captain de Courcy, of the Royal 
Hospital,' said I, doing my utmost to seem calm and 
collected. 

' We know that already ; what we want to hear is, 
what brought you here with her? It wasn't Captain de 
Courcy's orders ? ' 

'No, sir. I was told to hold her for him, and — 
and ' 

' And so you rode off with her — out with it, it saves time, 
my lad. Now, let me ask you another question: have 
you any notion of the crime you have just committed? 
do you know that it amounts to horse-stealing? and do 
you know what the penalty is for that offence ? ' 

' No, sir ; I know neither one nor the other,' said I 
resolutely; 'and if I did, it doesn't matter much. As 
well to live upon prison diet as to starve in the streets ! ' 

' He 's a bad 'un ; I told ye that ! ' remarked another 
of the policemen. ' Take him off, Grimes ! ' And so, amid 
a very general but subdued murmur of pity and condol- 
ence from the crowd, I was dragged away on one side, 
while the mare was led off on another. 

It was a terrible tumble down, from being a hero to 
an embryo felon ! From being cheered by the populace, 
to being collared by a policeman! As we went along 
towards Dublin, on a jaunting-car, I was regaled by 
interesting narratives of others, who had begun life 
like myself, and took an abrupt leave of it in a manner 
by no means too decorous. The peculiarity of anecdote 
which pertains to each profession was strongly marked 
in these officers of the law; and they appeared to have 



74 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

studied the dark side of human nature with eyes the 
keenest and most scrutinising. 

I wish I could even now forget the long and dreary- 
hours of the night that ensued, as I lay, with some fifty 
others, in the gaol of the station-house. The company 
was assuredly not select, nor their manners at all improved 
by the near approach of punishment. It seemed as if 
all the disguises of vice were thrown off at once, and that 
iniquity stood forth in its own true and glaring livery. 
I do not believe that the heart can ever experience a ruder 
shock than when an unfledged criminal first hears himself 
welcomed into the 'Masonry' of guilt; to be claimed by 
such associates as a f ellow-labourer ; to be received as 
one of the brethren into the guild of vice, is really an 
awful blow to one's self-esteem and respect ; to feel your- 
self inoculated with a disease, whose fatal marks are to 
stamp you like this one or that, sends a shuddering terror 
through the heart, whose cold thrill is never, in a life-long 
afterwards, thoroughly eradicated ! 

There should be a quarantine for suspected guilt, as for 
suspected disease ; and the mere doubt of rectitude should 
not expose any unfortunate creature to the chances of 
a terrible contagion ! I do not affect by this to say that 
I was guiltless — not in the least; but my crime should 
scarcely have classified me with the associates by whom 
I was surrounded. Nor was a night in such company the 
wisest mode of restoring to the path of duty one who 
might possibly have only slightly deviated from the 
straight line. 

When morning came, I was marched off, with a strong 
phalanx of other misdoers, to the College Street office, 
where a magistrate presided whose bitterest calumniators 
could never accuse of any undue leanings towards mercy. 
By him I had the satisfaction of hearing a great variety 
of small offences decided with a railroad rapidity, only 
interrupted, now and then, by a whining lamentation 
over the '■ lenity of the legislature,' that never awarded 



CON CREGAN 75 

one tithe of the suitable penalty, and bewailing his own 
inability to do more for the criminal than send him to 
prison for two months, with hard labour, and harder 
diet to sweeten it. 

At last came my name; and as I heard it shouted 
aloud, it almost choked me with a nervous fulness in the 
throat. I felt as though I was the greatest criminal in 
the universe, and that the whole vast assemblage had 
no other object or aim there than to see me arraigned for 
my offence. 

I was scarcely ordered to advance before I was desired 
to stand back again, the prosecutor, Captain de Courcy, 
not being in court. While a policeman was, therefore, 
despatched by the magistrate to request that he would 
have the kindness to appear — for the captain was an 
honourable and an aide-de-camp, titles which the sit- 
ting justice knew well how to respect — other cases were 
called and disposed of. It was nigh three o'clock when 
a great bustle in the outer court, and a tremendous falling 
back of the dense crowd, accompanied by an ostentatious 
display of police zeal, heralded a group of officers, who, 
with jingling spurs and banging sabretaches, made their 
way to the bench, and took their seats beside the justice. 
Many were the courtesies interchanged between the magis- 
trate and the captain — one averring that the delay was 
not in the slightest degree inconvenient, the other pro- 
fessing the greatest deference for the rules of court, 
neither bestowing a thought upon him most deeply con- 
cerned of all. 

A very brief narrative, delivered by the captain with 
a most military abruptness, detailed my offence ; and 
although not exaggerated in the slightest degree, the 
occasional interruptions of the magistrate served very 
considerably to magnify its guilt : such as, ' Dear me ! a 
favourite mare — a pure Arab — a present from your noble 
father, Lord Littlemore — infamous treatment — abominable 
case — abandoned young scoundrel ! ' and so on, closing with 



76 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

the accustomed peroration of regret that, as hanging was 
now done away with, he feared that the recorder could 
only award me a transportation for life ! 

'Have you anything to say, sirrah?' said he at last, 
turning towards me ; ' or would you rather reserve your 
observations for another time ? as I shall certainly commit 
you for trial at the commission.' 

'I have only to suggest,' said I, with an air of most 
insolent composure, 'that you are probably mistaken in 
your law. The offence with which I stand charged amounts, 
at most, to the minor one of breach of trust.' 

'What! have we got a lawyer in the dock?' said the 
magistrate, reddening with fear and anger together. 

' I have enjoyed some opportunities of legal study, your 
worship,' said I, ' and am happy to state that my opinion, 
in the present instance, will not discredit the assertion. 
The case stands thus : — I am employed by the Honourable 
Captain de Courcy to perform a particular duty, which is 
of the distinct nature of a trust ; that trust, whose import- 
ance I do not seek to extenuate in the slightest, I fail in. 
I will not plead the strong temptation of a race and a great 
spectacle. I will not allege, as perhaps I might, the 
example of my companions, then revelling in all the 
pleasures of the day. I will simply say that no one fact 
can be adduced to favour the suspicion of a meditated 
robbery; and that my conduct, so palpably open and 
public, rejects the least assumption of the kind, and at 
the utmost can establish nothing beyond what I am 
willing to plead guilty to — a breach of trust.' 

'Listen to the Attorney-General! By the hokey, it's 
himself they 've in the dock ! ' said one. 

' That 's the chap can give them chapter and varse ! ' 
cried another. 

' Silence there ! Keep silence in the court ! ' said the 
justice, now really warm with passion. 'I'd have you 
to know, sirrah,' said he, addressing me, 'that your 
pettifogging shrewdness is anything but favourable to 



CON CREGAN 77 

you in the unfortunate position in which you stand. I shall 
commit you for trial, and would advise you — it is the 
only piece of advice I'll trouble you with — to charge 
some more skilful advocate with your defence, and 
not intrust it to the knavish flippancy of conceit and 
chicanery.' 

'I mean to have counsel, your worship,' said I 
resolutely ; for my blood was up, and I would have argued 
with the twelve judges. 'I mean to have one of the 
first and most eminent at the bar for my defence. Mr. 
Mansergh, of Merrion Square, will not refuse my brief 
when he sees the fee I can offer him.' 

A regular roar of laughter filled the court; the im- 
pudence of my speech, and my thus introducing the 
name of one of the very first men at the bar, as likely 
to concern himself for such a miserable case and object, 
was too much for any gravity ; and when the magistrate 
turned to comment upon my unparalleled assurance and 
impertinence to Captain de Courcy, he discovered that 
the honourable captain had left his place. 

Such was the fact. The dashing aide-de-camp was, at 
that moment standing, in earnest converse with myself, 
beside the dock. 

'May I speak with this boy in another room, your 
worship ? ' said he, addressing the Court. 

'Certainly, Captain de Courcy! — Sergeant Biles, show 
Captain de Courcy into my robing-room.' 

The honourable captain did not regain his composure 
immediately on finding himself alone with me ; on the 
contrary, his agitation was such that he made two or 
three efforts before he could utter the few words with 
which he first addressed me. 

'What did you mean by saying that Mr. Mansergh 
would defend you? and what was the fee you alluded 
to ? ' were the words. 

' Just what I said, sir ! ' said I, with the steady assur- 
ance a confidence of victory gives. ' I thought it was 



78 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

better to have able counsel, and as I know I have the 
means of recompensing him, the opportunity was lucky.' 

' You don't pretend that you could afford to engage one 
like him, my lad ? ' said he, affecting, but very poorly, an 
air of easy composure. ' What could you give him ? ' 

'A note, sir; and although it never issued from the 
bank, one not without value.' 

The captain became deadly pale ; he made one step 
towards the door, and in a low voice of ill-restrained anger 
said, ' I '11 have you searched, sirrah ! If anything belong- 
ing to me is found upon you ' 

'No fear, sir!' said I composedly; 'I have taken 
precautions against that ; the note is safe ! ' 

He threw himself upon a chair, and stared at me 
steadily for some minutes, without a word. There we 
were, each scanning the other, and inwardly calculating 
how to win the game we were playing. 

'Well!' said he, at last; 'what are your terms? You 
see I give in.' 

' And so best,' said I ; ' it saves time. I ask very little 
from your honour — nothing more, in fact, than to have 
this charge dismissed. I don't mean to wear rags all my 
life, and consort with vagabonds, and so I dislike to have 
it said hereafter that I was ever arraigned or committed 
for an offence like this. You must tell the justice that it 
was some blunder or mistake of your orders to me — some 
accidental circumstance or other, I don't much care what, 
or how ; nor will he, if the explanation comes from you ! 
This done, I'll place the note in your hand within half 
an hour, and we need never see much more of each 
other.' 

' But who is to secure me that you keep your promise ? ' 

'You must trust to me,' said I carelessly; 'I have no 
bail to give.' 

' Why not return now with the policeman, for the note, 
before I speak to the justice ? ' 

' Then who is to go bail for you ? ' said I, smiling. 



CON CREGAN 79 

' You are a cool fellow, by Jove ! ' cried he, at the steady 
impudence which I maintained in the discussion. 

'I had need be!' replied I, in a voice very different 
from the feigned hardihood of my assumed part. 'The 
boy who has neither a home, nor a friend in the world, 
has little else to rely on save the cold recklessness of what 
may befall him ! ' 

I saw a curl of contempt upon the captain's lip at the 
energy of this speech; for now, when, for the first time 
between us, a single genuine sentiment broke from me, 
he deemed it ' cant.' 

' Well ! ' cried he, ' as you wish ; I '11 speak to the justice, 
and you shall be free.' 

He left the room as he spoke, but in a few moments 
re-entered it, saying, ' All is right ! You are discharged ! 
Now for your share of the bargain.' 

' Where will your honour be in half an hour ? ' 

' At the club, Foster Place.' 

' Then I '11 be there with the note,' said I. 

He nodded, and walked out. I watched him as he 
went ; but he neither spoke to a policeman, nor did he 
turn his head round to see what became of me. There 
was something in this that actually awed me. It was a 
trait so unlike anything I had ever seen in others, that I 
at once perceived it was ' the gentleman's ' spirit enabling 
him to feel confidence even in a poor ragged street 
wanderer as I was. The lesson was not lost on me. My 
life has been mainly an imitative one, and I have more 
than once seen the inestimable value of ' trusting.' 

No sooner was I at large than I speeded to Betty's, 
and was back again long before the half-hour expired. I 
had to wait till near five, however, before he appeared ; 
so sure was he of my keeping my word, that he never 
troubled himself about me ! ' Ha ! ' said he, as he saw me ; 
' long here ? ' 

' Yes, sir, about an hour ' ; and I handed him the note 
as I spoke. 



80 THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 

He thrust it carelessly into his sabretache, and pulling 
out a crown-piece, chucked it towards me, saying, ' Good- 
bye, friend; if they don't hang you, you'll make some 
noise in the world yet.' 

'I mean it, sir,' said I, with a familiar nod; and so 
genteelly touching my cap in salute, I walked away. 






- ^ 

'a quiet chop' at 'kil- 
leen's,' and a glance 
at a new character 

LOOKED very wist- 
fully at my broad 
crown - piece, as it 
lay with its honest 
platter face in the 
palm of my hand, 
and felt, by the stirring sensations it excited within me, 
some inklings of his feelings who possesses hundreds of 
thousands of them. Then there arose in my mind the 
grave question how it was to be spent; and such a 
strange connection is there between what economists call 
supply and demand, that, in place of being, as I esteemed 
myself a few minutes back, 'passing rich,' I at once 
perceived that I was exceeding poor, since to effect any 
important change in my condition, five shillings was a 
most inadequate sum. It would not buy me more than a 
pair of shoes ; and what use in repairing the foundation 
13 F 



82 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

of the edifice when the roof was in ruin ! not to speak of 
my other garments, to get into which, each morning, by 
the same apertures as before, was a feat that might have 
puzzled a harlequin. 

I next bethought me of giving an entertainment to my 
brethren at Betty's; but, after all, they had shown little 
sympathy with me in my late misfortune, and seemed 
pleased to be rid of a dangerous professional rival. This, 
and a lurking desire to leave the fraternity, decided me 
against this plan. 

Then came the thought of entertaining myself — giving 
myself a species of congratulatory dinner on my escape ; 
and, in fact, commemorating the event by anticipating the 
most fashionable mode now in use. 

I canvassed the notion with all the skill and fairness I 
could summon, stating the various objections against it, 
and answering them, with what seemed to myself a most 
judicial impartiality. 

' Who does a man usually entertain,' said I, ' but his 
intimate friends?' Those whose agreeability is pleasing 
to him, or whose acquaintance is valuable from their 
station and influence. Now, with whom had I such an 
unrestrained and cordial intercourse as myself? Whose 
society never wearied — whose companionship always 
interested me ? — my own ! and who, of all the persons I had 
ever met with, conceived a sincere and heartfelt desire for 
my welfare, preferring it to all others ? ' Con Cregan, it is 
you,' said I enthusiastically. ' In you my confidence is com- 
plete. I believe you incapable of ever forgetting me ; come, 
then, and let us pledge our friendship over a flowing bowl ! ' 

Where, too, was the next doubt? With a crown to 
spend, I was not going to descend to some subterranean 
den among coal-heavers, newsvenders, and umbrella 
hawkers; but how was I to gain access to a better-class 
ordinary — that was the difficulty; who would admit the 
street-runner in his rags into even a brief intimacy with 
his silver forks and spoons ; and it was precisely to an 



CON CREGAN 83 

entertainment on such a scale as a good tavern could 
supply that I aspired. It was to test my own feelings 
under a new stimulant— just as I have often since seen 
grave people experiment upon themselves with laughing 
gas, and magnetism, and the fumes of ether. 

'It may be too much for you, Con,' said I, as I went 
along; 'there's no knowing what effect it may have on 
your nerves.' 

' Remember that your system is not attuned to such 
variations. Your vagaries may prove extravagant, and 
the too sudden elevation may disturb your naturally 
correct judgment.' Against these doubts I pleaded the 
necessity of not being ungrateful to myself — not refusing 
a very proper acknowledgment of my own skill and 
astuteness ; and, lastly, I suggested a glancing kind of 
hope, that, like those famed heroes who dated their great 
fortune to having gone to sleep beneath the shadow of 
some charmed tree, or near the ripple of a magic fountain, 
that I, too, should arise from this banquet with some 
brilliant view of life, and see the path to success, bright 
and clear before me, through the hazy mists of fancy. 

As I reasoned thus, I passed various ordinaries, stop- 
ping with a kind of instinct at each, to gaze at the luscious 
rounds of beef so daintily tricked out with sprigs of 
parsley — the appetising cold sirloins, so beautifully strati- 
fied with fat and lean — with hams that might tempt a 
rabbi — not to speak of certain provocative little para- 
graphs about 'ox-tail and gravy ready at all hours.' 
' Queer world it is,' said I ; ' and there are passing at every 
instant, by tens and twenties, men, and women, and 
children, famishing and hungry, who see all these things 
separated from them by a pane of window-glass ; and yet, 
they only gather their rags more closely together, clench 
their thin lips tighter, and move on. Not that alone ; but 
here am I, with means to buy what I want, and yet I 
must not venture to cross that threshold, as though 
my rags should be an insult to their broadcloth.' 'Move 



84 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

on, youngster,' quoth a policeman at this moment, and 
thus put an end to my soliloquy. 

Wearied with rambling, and almost despairing of my- 
self, I was about to cross Carlisle Bridge, when the blazing 
effulgence of a great ruby-coloured lamplight attracted 
my attention, over which, in bright letters, ran the words, 
' Killeen's Tavern and Chop House,' and beneath — ' Steak, 
potatoes, and a pint of stout, one shilling and fourpence.' 
Armed with a bold thought, I turned and approached the 
house. Two or three waiters, in white aprons, were stand- 
ing at the door, and showed little inclination to make way 
for me as I advanced. 

' Well ! ' cried one, ' who are you ? Nobody sent for you.' 

' Tramp, my smart fellow,' said the other, ' this an't 
your shop.' 

' Isn't this Killeen's ? ' said I stoutly. 

' Just so,' said the first, a little surprised at my coolness. 

'Well, then, a young gentleman from the college sent 
me to order dinner for him at once, and pay for it at the 
same time.' 

' What will he have ? ' 

'Soup, and a steak, with a pint of port,' said I; just 
the kind of dinner I had often heard the old half -pay 
officers talking of at the door of the club in Foster Place. 

' What hour did he say ? ' 

' This instant. He 's coming down ; and as he starts by 
the mail at seven, he told me to have it on the table when 
he came.' 

'All right; four-and-six,' said the waiter, holding out 
his hand for the money. 

I gave him my crown-piece, and as he fumbled for the 
sixpence I insinuated myself quietly into the hall. 

'There's your change, boy,' said the waiter; 'you 
needn't stop.' 

' Will you be so good, sir,' said I, ' to write " paid " on a 
slip of paper for me, just to show the gentleman ? ' 

'Of course,' sajd he, taken possibly by the flattering 



CON CREGAN 85 

civility of my address, and he stepped into the bar, and 
soon reappeared with a small scrap of paper, with these 
words : ' Dinner and a pint of port, 4s. 6d. — paid.' 

'I'mto wait for him here, sir,' said I most obsequiously. 

'Very well, so you can,' replied he, passing on to the 
coffee-room. 

I peeped through the glass-door, and saw that in one of 
the little boxes into which the place was divided, a table 
was just spread, and a soup-tureen and a decanter placed 
on it. ' This,' thought I, ' is for me ' ; for all the other 
boxes were already occupied, and a great buzz of voices 
and clashing of plates and knives going on together. 

' Serve the steak, sir,' said I, stepping into the room and 
addressing the head- waiter, who, with a curse to me to ' get 
out of that,' passed on to order the dish ; while I, with an 
adroit flank movement, dived into the box, and, imitating 
some of the company, spread my napkin like a breastplate 
across me. By a great piece of fortune, the stall was the 
darkest in the room, so that when seated in a corner, with 
an open newspaper before me, I could, for a time at least, 
hope to escape detection. 

1 Anything else, sir ? ' cried a waiter, as he uncovered the 
soup, and deposited the dish of smoking beefsteak. 

'Nothing,' responded I, with a voice of most imposing 
sternness, and manfully holding up the newspaper 
between us. 

The first three or four mouthfuls I ate with a faint 
heart ; the fear of discovery, exposure, and expulsion, 
almost choked me. A glass of port rallied, a second one 
cheered, and a third emboldened me, and I proceeded to 
my steak in a spirit of true ease and enjoyment. The 
port was most insidious ; place it wherever I would on 
the table, it invariably stole over beside me, and in spite 
of me, as it were, the decanter would stand at my elbow. 
I suppose it must be in reality a very gentlemanlike 
tipple; the tone of sturdy self-reliance, the vigorous air 
of command, the sense of absolutism it inspires, smack 



86 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

of Toryism ; and as I sipped, I felt myself rising above 
the low prejudices I once indulged in against rank and 
wealth, and insensibly comprehending the beauty of that 
system which divides and classifies mankind. 

The very air of the place, the loud, overbearing talk, 
the haughty summons to the waiter, the imperious demand 
for this or that requisite of the table, all conspired to 
impress me with the pleasant sensation imparted to him 
who possesses money. Among the various things called 
for on every side I remarked that mustard seemed in 
the very highest request. Every one ate of it; none 
seemed to have enough of it. There was a perpetual 
cry — 'Mustard! I say, waiter, bring me the mustard!' 
while one very choleric old gentleman, in a drab surtout 
and a red nose, absolutely seemed bursting with in- 
dignation, as he said, 'You don't expect me to eat a 
steak without mustard, sir?' — a rebuke at which the 
waiter grew actually purple. 

Now this was the very thing I had myself been doing, 
actually eating ' a steak without mustard ! ' What a mistake, 
and for one who believed himself to be in every respect 
conforming to the choicest usages of high life ! What was 
to be done ? the steak had disappeared ; no matter, it was 
never too late to learn, and so I cried out, 'Waiter! the 
mustard here ! ' in a voice that almost electrified the whole 
room. 

I had scarcely concealed myself beneath my curtain 
— the Times — when the mustard was set down before me, 
with a humble apology for forgetfulness. I waited till 
he withdrew, and then helping myself to the unknown 
delicacy, proceeded to eat it, as the phrase is, 'neat.' In 
my eagerness I swallowed two or three mouthfuls before 
I felt its effects, and then a sensation of burning and 
choking seized upon me. My tongue seemed to swell to 
thrice its size; my eyes felt as if they would drop out 
of my head; while a tingling sensation, like 'frying,' in 
my nostrils almost drove me mad ; so that, after three 



CON CREGAN 87 

or four seconds of silent agony, during which I experienced 
about ten years of torture, unable to endure more, I 
screamed out that ' I was poisoned,' and with wide-open 
mouth, and staring eyes, ran down the coffee-room. 

Never was seen such an uproar! had an animal from 
a wild beast menagerie appeared among the company, the 
consternation could scarce be greater ; and in the mingled 
laughter and execrations might be traced the different 
moods of those who resented my intrusion. 'Who is 
this fellow ? how did he get in ? what brought him here ? 
what's the matter with him?' poured in on all sides 
— difficulties the head-waiter thought it better to deal 
with by a speedy expulsion than by any lengthened 
explanation. 

' Get a policeman, Bob ! ' said he to the next in com- 
mand ; and the order was given loud enough to be heard 
by me. 

' What the devil threw him amongst us ? ' said a testy- 
looking man in green spectacles. 

' I came to dine, sir,' said I ; ' to have my steak and my 
pint of wine, as I hoped, in comfort, and as one might 
have it in a respectable tavern.' 

A jolly burst of laughter stopped me, and I was obliged 
to wait for its subsidence to continue. 

1 Well, sir ! I paid for my dinner ' 

' Is that true, Sam ? ' said a shrewd-looking man to the 
waiter. 

' Quite true, sir ! he paid f our-and-sixpence, saying that 
the dinner was for a college gentleman.' 

' I have been in college,' said I coolly ; ' but no matter, 
the thing is simple enough; I am here, in a house of 
public entertainment, the proprietors of which have 
accepted my money for a specific purpose; and putting 
aside the question whether they can refuse admission 
to any well-conducted individual (see Barnes versus 
MacTivell, in the 8th volume Term Reports ; and Hobbes 
against Blinkerton, Soaker, and others, in the Appendix) 



88 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

I contend that my presence here is founded upon 
contract.' 

Another and still louder roar of mirth again stopped 
me, and before I could resume, the company had gathered 
round me in evident delight at my legal knowledge ; and 
in particular, he of the spectacles, who was a well-known 
attorney of the Court of Conscience. 

' That fellow 's a gem ! ' said he. ' Hang me if he 's not 
equal to Bleatem ! Sam, take care what you do ; he 's 
the chap to have his action against you ! I say, my man, 
come and sit down here, and let us have a little chat 
together.' 

'Most willingly, sir,' responded I. 'Waiter, bring my 
wine over to this table.' This was the signal for another 
shout, of which I did not deign to take the slightest 
notice. 

'I'll wager a hundred oysters,' exclaimed one of the 
party among whom I now seated myself, 'that I have 
seen him before! Tell me, my lad, didn't you ride over 
the course yesterday, and cut out the work for Mr. 
Beatagh ? ' 

I bowed an assent. ' Who the devil is he ? ' cried two or 
three together ; and my appearance and manner did not 
check the audible expression of this sentiment. 

' A few words will suffice, gentlemen,' said I, ' on that 
head. My father was an estated gentleman, of small but 
unencumbered fortune, which he lost by an unfortunate 
speculation ; he accordingly went abroad ' 

' To Norfolk Island ! ' suggested one, with a wink. 

' Exactly,' responded I ; ' a colonial appointment ; leaving 
me, like Norval, not exactly on the Grampian Hills, but in 
a worse place, in the middle of the bog of Allen, my sole 
dependence being in certain legal studies I had once made, 
and a natural taste for getting forward in life, which, 
with a most enthusiastic appreciation of good company' 
— here I bowed politely all round — 'are, I natter myself, 
my chief characteristics.' 



CON CREGAN 89 

After a little, but most good-humoured, quizzing about 
my present occupation and future prospects, they, with far 
more politeness than might be expected, turned the con- 
versation upon other matters, and kindly permitted me to 
throw in from time to time my observations — remarks 
which I could see, from their novelty at least, seemed often 
to surprise them. 

At length the hour of separating arrived, and I arose 
to bid the company good-night, which I performed with 
a very fair imitation of that quiet ease I had often studied 
in the young guardsmen about town. 

' What do you bet that he has neither home to shelter 
him nor bed to sleep on this night ? ' whispered one to his 
neighbour. 

' What are you writing there, Cox ? ' said another, to the 
keen-eyed man, who was pencilling something on a card. 

' There ; that 's my address, my boy — 12 Stafford Street : 
Jeremiah Cox. Come to me about ten to-morrow.' 

Another, while he was speaking, made an effort to slip 
a half-crown into my hand — a measure I felt it becoming 
to decline "with a prompt but courteous refusal. Indeed, 
I had so identified myself with the part I was performing, 
that I flung down my only sixpence on the table for the 
waiter, and with a last salutation to the honourable 
company, walked out. I have a perfect memory of every 
circumstance of the evening, and I recollect that my 
swaggering exit was as free from any semblance of 
concern or care as though a carriage waited for me out- 
side to convey me to a luxurious home ! 

It has often been a fancy of mine through life to pass 
the entire of a summer night out of doors ; to wander 
either through the moonlit roads of some picturesque 
country, or in the still more solitary streets of a great city. 
I have always felt on these occasions as though one were 
'stealing a march' upon the sleeping world— gaining so 
many more hours of thought and reflection, which the 
busy conflict of life renders so often difficult. 



90 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

The hours of the night seem to typify so many stages 
of existence — only reversing the natural order of age, and 
making the period of deep reflection precede the era of 
sanguine hope ; for if the solemn closing in of the dark- 
ness suggests musing, so do the rosy tints and fresh air 
of breaking day inspire the warm hopefulness of youth. 
If ' the daylight sinking ' invites the secret communing of 
the heart, 'the dawning of morn' glows with energetic 
purpose and bold endeavour. 

To come back to myself. I left the tavern without 
a thought whither I should turn my steps. It was a 
calm night, with a starry sky and a mild genial air, so 
that to pass the hours until morning without shelter was 
no great privation. One only resolve I had formed — never 
to go back to Betty's. I felt that I had sojourned over 
long in such companionship ; it was now time some other 
and more upward path should open before me. 

Following the course of the Liffey, I soon reached the 
Quay called the North Wall, and at last arrived at the 
bluff extremity which looks out upon the opening of 
the river into the Bay of Dublin. The great expanse was 
in deep shadow, but so calm the sea, that the two light- 
houses were reflected in long columns of light in the 
tranquil water. The only sound audible was the low 
monotonous plash of the sea against the wall, or the 
grating noise of a chain cable, as the vessel it held surged 
slowly with the tide. The sounds had something plaintive 
in them, that soon imparted a tone of sadness to my mind; 
but it was a melancholy not unpleasing ; and I sat down 
upon a rude block of stone, weaving strange fancies of 
myself and my future. 

As I sat thus, my ear, grown more acute by habit, 
detected the light clank of a chain, and something like 
a low thumping sound in the water beneath me, and on 
peering down, I discovered the form of a small boat, 
fastened to a ring in the wall, and which, from time to 
time, grated against the strong masonry. There it lay, 



CON CREGAN 91 

with a pair of light oars run under the thwarts, and its 
helm flapping to and fro, inert and purposeless, like my- 
self ! So at least I fancied it, and soon began conceiving 
a strange parallel between it and me. I was suddenly 
startled from these musings by the sound of feet rapidly 
approaching. 

I listened, and could hear a man coming towards me 
at full speed. I sat down beneath the shadow of the 
wall, and he passed me unnoticed, and then, springing up 
on the parapet, he gave a loud shrill whistle ; waiting a 
few seconds as if for the reply, he was silent, and then 
repeated it; but still in vain — no answer came. 'Blast 
them ! ' muttered he, ' the scoundrels will not show a 
light!' A third time did he whistle; but though the 
sounds might be heard a mile off, neither sight nor sound 
ever responded to them. 'And that rascal, too, to have 
left the boat at such a moment ! ' Just as he uttered these 
words, he sprang down from the wall, and caught sight 
of me, as I lay, affecting sleep, coiled up beneath it. 

With a rude kick of his foot on my side he aroused 

me, saying, ' D n the fellow, is this a time for sleeping ? 

I told you to keep a sharp lookout for me here ! What ! 
who are you?' cried he, as I stood upright before him. 

' A poor boy, sir, that has no roof to shelter him,' said 
I plaintively. 

He bent his head and listened; and then, with a 
horrible curse, exclaimed, ' Here they are ! here they 
come ! Can you pull an oar, my lad ? ' 

' I can, sir,' answered I. 

'Well, jump down into the punt there, and row her 
round the point to the stairs. Be quick ! down with you ! 
I have cut my hand, and cannot help you. There, that 's 
it, my lad ! catch the ring ; swing yourself a little more 
to the right ; her gunwale is just beneath your foot ; all 
right now! well done! Be alive now! give way, give 
way!' and thus encouraging me, he walked along the 
parapet above me, and in a few minutes stood fast, calling 



92 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

out, but in a lower and more cautious voice, ' There ! 
close in, now a strong pull — that's it!' and then hastily 
descending a narrow flight of steps, he sprang into the 
boat, and seated himself in the stern. 'Hush! be still!' 
cried he, 'do not stir! they'll never see us under the 
shadow of the wall ! ' 

As he spoke, two dark figures mounted the wall, 
straight above our heads, and stood for some seconds as 
it were peering into the distance. 

'I'll swear I saw him take this way,' cried one, in a 
deep low voice. 

' If he were the devil himself he could not escape us 
here,' said the other, with an accent of vindictive passion. 

' And he is the devil,' said the former speaker. 

' Pooh, nonsense, man ! any fellow who can win at dice, 
or has a steady finger with a pistol, is a marvel for you. 
Curses on him ! he has given us the slip somehow.' 

' I 'd not wonder, Harry, if he has taken the water ; he 
swims like a duck ! ' 

'He could not have sprung from a height like that 
without a plash, and we were close enough upon his heels 
to hear it ; flash off some powder in a piece of paper ; it is 
dark as pitch here.' 

While the men above were preparing their light, I 
heard a slight stir in the stern of the boat. I turned my 
head and saw my companion coolly fitting a cap on his 
pistol; he was doing it with difficulty, as he was obliged 
to hold the pistol between his knees, while he adjusted 
the cap with his left hand; the right hand he carried in 
the breast of his coat. Nothing could be more calm and 
collected than his every movement, up to the instant 
when, having cocked the weapon, he lay back in the 
boat so as to have a full stare at the two dark figures 
above us. 

At last, the fuse was ready, and being lighted, it was 
held for a few seconds in the hand, and then thrown into 
the air. The red and lurid glare flashed full upon two 



CON CREGAN 93 

savage-looking faces, straight above our heads, and for 
an instant showed their figures with all the distinctness 
of noonday. I saw them both, as if by a common im- 
pulse, lean over the parapet and peer down into the dark 
water below; and I could have almost sworn that we 
were discovered ; my companion evidently thought so too, 
for he raised his pistol steadily, and took a long and 
careful aim. What a moment was that for me — expecting 
at every instant to hear the report, and then the heavy 
fall of the dead man into the water ! My throat was full 
to bursting. The bit of burning paper of the fuse had 
fallen on my companion's pistol hand, but though it must 
have scorched him, he never stirred, nor even brushed it 
off. I thought that by its faint flicker, also, we might 
have been seen; but no, it was plain they had not per- 
ceived us; and it was with a delight I cannot describe 
that I saw one and then the other descend from the wall, 
while I heard the words, 'There's the second time above 

five hundred pounds has slipped from us. D n the 

fellow ! but if I hang for him, 1 11 do it yet ! ' 

' Well, you 've spoiled his hand for hazard for a while, 
anyhow, Harry ! ' said the other. ' I think you must have 
taken his fingers clean off ! ' 

' The knife was like a razor,' replied the other, with a 
laugh; 'but he struck it out of my hand with a blow 
above the wrist ; and, I can tell you, I 'd as soon get the 
kick of a horse as a short stroke of the same closed fist.' 

They continued to converse as they moved away, 
but their words only reached me in broken, unconnected 
sentences. From all I could glean, however, I was in 
company with one of enormous personal strength, and 
of most reckless intrepidity. At last, all was still — not a 
sound to be heard on any side ; and my companion, 
leaning forward, said, 'Come, my lad, pull me out a 
short distance into the offing; we shall soon see a light 
to guide us.' 

In calm, still water I could row well. I had been boat- 



94 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

boy to the priest at all his autumn fishing excursions 
on the Westmeath Lakes, so that I acquitted myself 
creditably, urged on, I am free to confess, by a very 
profound fear of the large figure who loomed so 
mysteriously in the stern. For a time we proceeded 
in deep silence, when at last he said, 'What vessel do 
you belong to, boy ? ' 

' I was never at sea, sir,' replied I. 

' Not a sailor ! how comes it, then, you can row so well ? ' 

' I learned to row in fresh water, sir,' 

' What are you ? How came you to be here to-night ? ' 

' By merest chance, sir. I had no money to pay for a 
bed. I have neither home nor friends. I have lived by 
holding horses, and running errands, in the streets.' 

'Picking pockets occasionally, I suppose, too, when 
regular business was dull ! ' 

' Never ! ' said I indignantly. 

' Don't be shocked, my fine fellow ! ' said he jeeringly ; 
'better men than ever you'll be have done a little that 
way. I have made some lighter this evening myself, for 
the matter of that ! ' 

This confession, if very frank, was not very reassuring, and 
so I made no answer, but rowed away with all my might. 

' Well ! ' said he, after a pause, ' luck has befriended me 
twice to-night, and sending you to sleep under that wall 
was not the worst turn of the two. Ship your oars, there, 
boy, and let us see if you are as handy a surgeon as you are 
a sailor. Try and bind up these wounded fingers of mine, 
for they begin to smart with the cold night air.' 

'Wait an instant,' cried he; 'we are safe now, so you 
may light this lantern'; and he took from his pocket a 
small and most elegantly fashioned lantern, which he 
immediately lighted. 

I own it was with a most intense curiosity I waited for 
the light to scan the features of my singular companion ; 
nor was my satisfaction inconsiderable when, instead of 
the terrific - looking fellow — half bravo, half pirate — I 



CON CREGAN 95 

expected, I perceived before me a man of apparently 
thirty-one or two, with large but handsome features and 
gentlemanly appearance. He had an immense beard and 
moustache, which united at either side of the mouth ; but 
this, ferocious enough to one unaccustomed to it, could not 
take off the quiet regularity and good-humour of his manly 
features. He wore a large-brimmed, slouched felt-halt, 
that shaded his brows ; and he seemed to be dressed with 
some care beneath the rough exterior of a common pilot 
coat; at least he wore silk stockings and shoes, as if in 
evening dress. 

These particulars I had time to note, while he unwound 
from his crippled hand the strips of a silk handkerchief, 
which, stiffened and clotted with blood, bespoke a deep and 
severe wound. 

If the operation were often painful, even to torture, 
he never winced, or permitted the slightest expression of 
suffering to escape him. At last the undressing was com- 
pleted, and a fearful gash appeared, separating the four 
fingers almost entirely from the hand. The keenness of 
cut showed that the weapon must have been, as the fellow 
averred, sharp as a razor. Perhaps the copious loss of 
blood had exhausted the vessels, or the tension of the 
bandage had closed them, for there was little bleeding, and 
I soon succeeded, with the aid of his cravat, in making a 
tolerable dressing of the wound, and by filling up the palm 
of the hand, as I had once seen done by a country surgeon 
in a somewhat similar case. The pain was relieved by 
the gentle support afforded. 

' Why, you are a most accomplished vagrant ! ' said he, 
laughing, as he watched the artistic steps of my proceeding. 
'What 's your name ? — I mean, what do you go by at present ? 
for of course a fellow like you has a score of aliases.' 

'I have had only one name up to this,' said I — 'Con 
Cregan.' 

' Con Cregan ! sharp and shrewd enough it sounds, too ! ' 
said he ; ' and what line of life do you mean to follow, 



96 THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 

Master Con? for I suspect you have not been without 
some speculations on the subject.' 

' I have thought of various things, sir ; but how is a poor 
boy like me to get a chance ? I feel as if I could pick up a 
little of most trades, but I have no money, nor any friends.' 

' Money — friends ! ' exclaimed he, with a burst of bitter- 
ness, quite unlike his previous careless humour. 'Well, 
my good fellow, I had both one and the other — more than 
most people are supposed to have of either — and what 
have they brought me to ? ' he held up his maimed and 
blood-clotted hand, as he spoke this with a withering 
scorn in every accent. 

' No, my boy ! trust one who knows something of life — 
the lighter you start the easier your journey ! He that sets 
his heart on it can always make money ; and friends, as they 
are called by courtesy, are still more easily acquired.' 

This was the first time I had ever heard any one speak 
of the game of life, as such ; and I cannot say what intense 
pleasure the theme afforded me. I am certain I never 
stopped to consider whether his views were right or not — 
whether the shrewd results of a keen observer, or the 
prejudices of a disappointed man. It was the subject, the 
matter discussed, delighted me. 

My companion appeared to feel that he had a willing 
listener, and went freely on canvassing the various roads 
to success, and with a certain air of confidence in all he 
said that to me seemed quite oracular. 'What a fellow 
am I,' said he at last, ' to discourse in this strain to a street 
urchin, whose highest ambition is to outrun his ragged 
competitors, and be first "in" for the sixpence of some 
cantering cornet. Pull ahead, lad, there 's the light at last ; 
and hang me if they 're not two miles out ! ' 

The contemptuous tone of the last few words effectually 
repressed any desire I might have had for further colloquy, 
and I rowed away in silence, putting forth all my strength 
and skill, so that the light skiff darted rapidly and steadily 
through the water. 





SIR DUDLEY BROUGHTON 

TEADILY, and with all the vigour I 
could command, I pulled towards the 
light. My companion sat quietly- 
watching the stars, and apparently- 
following out some chain of thought to 
himself ; at last he said, ' There, boy, 
breathe a bit, there 's no need to blow yourself, we 're all 
safe long since ; the Firefly is right ahead of us, and not 
far off either. Have you never heard of the yacht ? ' 
'Never, sir.' 

' Nor of its owner, Sir Dudley Broughton ? ' 
' No, sir, I never heard the name.' 

' Well, come,' cried he, laughing, ' that is consolatory. 

I 'm not half so great a reprobate as I thought myself ! I 

did not believe till now that there was an urchin of your 

stamp living who could not have furnished at least some 

13 G 



98 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

ancedotes for a memoir of me! Well, my lad, yonder, 
where you see the blue light at the peak, is the Firefly, and 
here, where I sit, is Sir Dudley Broughton. Ten minutes 
more will put us alongside, so, if you're not tired, pull 
away.' 

'No, Sir Dudley,' said I, for I was well versed in the 
popular tact of catching up a name quickly, ' I am able to 
row twice as far.' 

' And now, Master Con,' said he, ' we are going to part ; 
are you too young a disciple of your craft for a glass of 
grog ? or are you a follower of that newfangled notion of 
pale-faced politicians, who like bad coffee and reason better 
than whisky and fun ? ' 

' 1 11 take nothing to drink, Sir Dudley,' said I. ' I have 
dined, and drunk well to-day, and I '11 not venture further.' 

' As you please ; only I say you 're wrong not to victual 
the ship whenever you stand inshore. No matter, put 
your hand into this vest pocket — you '11 find some shillings 
there, take them, whatever they be. You '11 row the boat 
back with one of my people ; and all I have to say is, if you 
do speak of me, as no doubt you will and must, don't say 
anything about these smashed fingers; I suppose they'll 
get right one of these days, and I 'd rather there was no 
gossip about them.' 

' I '11 never speak of it — I ' 

'There now, that's enough, no swearing, or I know 
you '11 break your promise. Back water a little — pull the 
starboard oar : so, here we are alongside.' 

Sir Dudley had scarce done speaking when a hoarse 
voice from the yacht challenged us. This was replied to 
by a terrific volley of imprecations on the stupidity of not 
sooner showing the light, amid which Sir Dudley ascended 
the side and stood upon the deck. ' Where 's Halkett ? ' 
cried he imperiously. ' Here, sir,' replied a short, thickset 
man, with a sailorlike shuffle in his walk. 'Send one of 
the men back with the gig, and land that boy. Tell the 
fellow, too, he's not to fetch Waters aboard if he meets 



CON CREGAN 99 

him ; the scoundrel went off and left me to my fate this 
evening, and it might have been no pleasant one if I had 
not found that lad yonder.' 

'We have all Sam Waters' kit on board, Sir Dudley,' 
said Halkett ; ' shall we send it ashore ? ' 

' No. Tell him I '11 leave it at Demerara for him, and he 
may catch the yellow fever in looking after it,' said he, 
laughing. 

While listening to this short dialogue I had contrived 
to approach a light which gleamed from the cabin window, 
and then took the opportunity to count over my wealth, 
amounting, as I supposed, to some seven or eight shillings. 
Guess my surprise to see that the pieces were all bright 
yellow gold — eight shining sovereigns ! 

I had but that instant made the discovery, when the 
sailor who was to put me on shore jumped into the boat 
and seated himself. 

' Wait one instant,' cried I. ' Sir Dudley — Sir Dudley 
Broughton ! ' 

' Well, what 's the matter ? ' said he, leaning over the side. 

' This money you gave me ' 

1 Not enough, of course ! I ought to have known that,' 
said he scornfully. ' Give the whelp a couple of half- 
crowns, Halkett, and send him adrift.' 

' You 're wrong, sir,' cried I, with passionate eagerness ; 
' they are gold pieces — sovereigns ! ' 

'The devil they are!' cried he, laughing; 'the better 
luck yours. Why didn't you hold your tongue about it ? ' 

' You bid me take some shillings, sir,' answered I. 

' How d d honest you must be ! Do you hear that, 

Halkett ? the fellow had scruples about taking his prize- 
money. Never mind, boy, I must pay for my blunder — 
you may keep them now.' 

' I have pride, too,' cried I, ' and hang me if I touch them.' 

He stared at me, without speaking, for a few minutes, 
and then said in a low flat voice, ' Come on deck, lad.' I 
obeyed ; and he took a lighted lantern from the binnacle 



100 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

and held it up close to my face, and then moved it, so that 
he made a careful examination of my whole figure. 

' I 'd give a crown to know who was your father,' said 
he dryly. 

' Con Cregan, of Kilbeggan, sir.' 

' Oh, of course, I know all that. Come, now, what say 
you to try a bit of life afloat ? Will you stay here ? ' 

' Will you take me, sir ? ' cried I in ecstasy. 

' Halkett, rig him out,' said he shortly. ' Nip the 
anchor with the ebb, and keep your course down channel.' 
With this he descended the cabin stairs and disappeared, 
while I, at a signal from Halkett, stepped down the 
ladder into the steerage. In the meanwhile, it will not 
be deemed digressionary if I devote a few words to the 
singular character into whose society I was now thrown, 
inasmuch as to convey any candid narrative of my own 
career, I must speak of those who, without influencing 
the main current of my life, yet certainly gave some 
impulse and direction to its first meanderings. 

Sir Dudley Broughton was the only son of a wealthy 
baronet, who, not from affection or overkindness, but out 
of downright indolent indifference, permitted him, first as 
an Eton boy, and afterwards as a gentleman commoner of 
Christ Church, to indulge in every dissipation that suited 
his fancy. An unlimited indulgence, a free command of 
whatever money he asked for, added to a temper con- 
stitutionally headstrong and impetuous, soon developed 
what might have been expected from the combination. 
He led a life of wild insubordination at school, and was 
expelled from Oxford. With faculties above rather than 
beneath mediocrity, and a certain aptitude for acquiring 
the knowledge most in request in society, he had the 
reputation of being one who, if he had not unhappily so 
addicted himself to dissipation, would have made a 
favourable figure in the world. After trying in vain to 
interest himself in the pursuits of a country life, of which 
the sporting was the only thing he found attractive, he 



CON CREGAN 101 

joined a well-known light cavalry regiment, celebrated for 
numbering among its officers more fast men than any 
other corps in the service. His father, dying about the same 
time, left him in possession of a large fortune, which, with 
all his extravagance, was but slightly encumbered. This 
fact, coupled with his well-known reputation, made him 
popular with his brother officers, most of whom having 
run through nearly all they possessed, saw with pleasure 
a new Crcesus arrive in the regiment. Such a man as 
Broughton was just wanted, One had a charger to get 
off ; another wanted a purchaser for his four-in-hand drag. 
The senior captain was skilful at billiards ; and every one 
played ' Lansquenet ' and hazard. 

Besides various schemes against his purse, the colonel 
had a still more serious one against his person. He had a 
daughter, a handsome, fashionable-looking girl, with all 
the manners of society, and a great deal of that tact only 
to be acquired in the very best foreign society. That she 
was no longer in the fresh bloom of youth, nor with a 
reputation quite spotless, were matters well known in the 
regiment; but as she was still eminently handsome, and 
' the Count Radchoff sky ' had been recalled by the emperor 
from the embassy of which he was secretary, Lydia 
Delmar was likely, in the opinions of keen-judging 
parties, to make a good hit with 'some young fellow 
who didn't know town.' Broughton was exactly the man 
Colonel Delmar wanted — good family, a fine fortune, and 
the very temper a clever woman usually contrives to rule 
with absolute sway. 

There would be, unfortunately, no novelty in recording 
the steps by which such a man is ruined. He did every- 
thing that men do who are bent upon testing Fortune to 
the utmost. He lent large sums to his ' friends ' ; he lost 
larger ones to them. When he did win, none ever paid 
him, except by a good-humoured jest upon his credit at 
Coutts'. ' What the devil do you want with money, Sir 
Dudley?' was an appeal he could never reply to. He 



102 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

ran horses at Ascot, and got 'squeezed' — he played at 
' Croeky's,' and fared no better ; but he was the favourite 
of the corps. 'We could never get on without Dudley,' 
was a common remark, and it satisfied him, that, with all 
his extravagance, he had made an investment in the 
hearts at least of his comrades. A few months longer of 
this ' fast ' career would, in all likelihood, have ruined him. 
He broke his leg by a fall in a steeplechase, and thus was 
driven, by sheer necessity, to lay up, and keep quiet for a 
season. Now came Colonel Delmar's opportunity; the 
moment the news reached Coventry, he set off with his 
daughter to Leamington. With the steeplechasing, 
hazard-playing, betting, drinking, yachting, driving Sir 
Dudley, there was no chance or even time for their plans ; 
but with a sick man on the sofa, bored by his inactivity, 
hipped for want of his usual resources, the game was open. 
The colonel's visit, too, had such an air of true kindness ! 

Broughton had left quarters without leave ; but, instead 
of reprimands, arrests, and Heaven knows what besides, 
there was Colonel Delmar — the fine old fellow, shaking 
his finger in mock rebuke, and saying, 'Ah, Dudley, my 
boy, I came down to give you a rare scolding, but this 
sad business has saved you ! ' And Lydia also, against 
whom he had ever felt a dislike — that prejudice your 
boisterous and noisy kind of men ever feel to clever 
women, whose sarcasms they know themselves exposed 
to — why, she was gentle good-nature and easy sisterlike 
kindness itself ! She did not, as the phrase goes, ' nurse 
him ' ; but she seldom left the room where he lay. She 
read aloud, selecting with a marvellous instinct the very 
kind of books he fancied. Novels, tales of everyday life, 
things of whose truthfulness he could form some judg- 
ment; and sketches wherein the author's views were 
about on a level with his own. She would sit at the 
window, too, and amuse him with descriptions of the 
people passing in the street ; such smart shrewd pictures 
were they of watering - place folks and habits, Dudley 



CON CREGAN 103 

never tired of them ! She was unsurpassed for the style 
with which she could dress up an anecdote or a bit of 
gossip ; and if it verged upon the free, her French educa- 
tion taught her the nice perception of the narrow line 
that separates ' libertinage ' from indelicacy. 

So far from feeling impatient at his confinement to 
a sofa, therefore, Broughton affected distrust in his 
renovated limb for a full fortnight after the doctor had 
pronounced him cured. At last he was able to drive out, 
and soon afterwards to take exercise on horseback, Lydia 
Delmar and her father occasionally accompanying him. 

People will talk at Leamington, as they do at other 
places ; and so the gossips said that the rich — for he was 
still so reputed in the world — the ' rich ' Sir Dudley 
Broughton was going to marry Miss Delmar. 

Gossip is half-brother to that all-powerful director 
called Public Opinion; so that when Sir Dudley heard, 
some half-dozen times every day, what it was reputed 
he would do, he began to feel that he ought to do it. 

Accordingly they were married ; the world — at least 
the Leamington section of that large body — criticising the 
match precisely as it struck the interests and prejudices of 
the class they belonged to. 

Fathers and mothers agreed in thinking that Colonel 
Delmar was a shrewd old soldier, and had made an ' ex- 
cellent hit.' Young ladies pronounced Liddy — for a girl 
who had been out eight years — decidedly lucky. Lounging 
men at club doors looked knowingly at each other as 
they joked together in half sentences, ' No affair of mine ; 
but I did not think Broughton would have been caught 
so easily.' ' Yes, by Jove ! ' cried another, with a jockey like 
style of dress, ' he 'd not have made so great a mistake on 
the " Oaks " as to run an aged nag for a two-year-old ! ' 

' I wonder he never heard of that Russian fellow ! ' said 
a third. 

' Oh, yes ! ' sighed out a dandy, with an affected drawl ; 
' poor dear Liddy did, indeed, catch a " Tartar ! " 



104 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

Remarks such as these were the pleasant sallies the 
event provoked ; but so it is in higher and greater things 
in life. At the launch of a line-of -battle ship, the veriest 
vagrant in rags fancies he can predict for her defeat and 
shipwreck ! 

The Broughtons were now the great people of the 
London season, at least to a certain 'fast' set, who 
loved dinners at the ' Clarendon,' high play, and other 
concomitant pleasures. Her equipages were the most 
perfect ; her diamonds the most splendid ; while his 
dinners were as much reputed by one class as her toilette 
by another. 

Loans at ruinous interest ; sales of property for a tithe 
of its value; bills renewed at a rate that would have 
swamped Rothschild; purchases made at prices propor- 
tionate to the risk of non-payment ; reckless waste every- 
where ; robbing solicitors, cheating tradesmen, and dis- 
honest servants ! But why swell the list, or take trouble 
to show how the ruin came ? If one bad leak will cause a 
shipwreck, how is the craft to mount the waves with every 
plank riven asunder ? 

If, among the patriarchs who lend at usury, Broughton's 
credit was beginning to ebb, in the clubs at the West End, 
in the betting-ring, at Crockf ord's, and at Tattersall's, he 
was in all the splendour of his former fame. Anderson 
would trust him with half his stable. Howell and James 
would send him the epergne they had designed for a czar. 
And so he lived. With rocks and breakers ahead, he only 
' carried on ' the faster and the freer. 

Not that he knew, indeed, the extent, or anything 
approaching the extent, to which his fortune was wrecked. 
All that he could surmise on the subject was founded on 
the increased difficulty he found in raising money — a 
circumstance his pliant solicitor invariably explained by 
that happy phrase, the 'tightness of the money-market.' 
This completely satisfied Sir Dudley, who, far from attri- 
buting it to his own almost exhausted resources, laid all 



CON CREGAN 105 

the blame upon some trickery of foreign statesmen, some 
confounded disturbance in Ireland, something that the 
Foreign Secretary had done, or would not do ; and that 
thus the money folk would not trust a guinea out of 
their fingers. In fact, it was quite clear that to political 
intrigue and cabinet scheming all Sir Dudley's difficulties 
might fairly be traced ! 

It was just at this time that the Count Radchoffsky 
arrived once more in London in charge of a special mis- 
sion. No longer the mere secretary of embassy, driving 
about in his quiet cab, but an envoy extraordinary, with 
cordons and crosses innumerable. He was exactly the 
kind of man for Broughton's ' set,' so that he soon made 
his acquaintance, and was presented by him to Lady 
Broughton as a most agreeable fellow, and something 
very distinguished in his own country. 

She received him admirably — remembered to have met 
him, she thought, at Lord Edenbury's ; but he corrected 
her by saying it was at the Duke of Clifton's— a difference 
of testimony at which Broughton laughed heartily, saying, 
in his usual rough way, ' Well, it is pretty clear you didn't 
make much impression on each other.' 

The Russian noble was a stranger to the turf. In the 
details of arranging the approaching race, in apportioning 
the weights, and ages, and distances, Broughton passed 
his whole mornings for a month, sorely puzzled at times 
by the apathy of his northern friend, who actually never 
obtruded an opinion, or expressed a wish for information 
on the subject. 

Sir Dudley's book was a very heavy one, too. What ' he 
stood to win ' was a profound secret ; but knowing men 
said that if he lost it would be such a ' squeeze ' as had not 
been known at Newmarket since the Duke of York's 
day. 

Such an event, however, seemed not to enter into his 
own calculations ; and so confident was he of success, that 
he could not help sharing his good fortune with his friend 



106 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

Radchoffsky, and giving him something in his own book. 
The count professed himself everlastingly grateful, but 
confessed that he knew nothing of racing matters; and 
that, above all, his Majesty the Emperor would be exces- 
sively annoyed if a representative of his in any way inter- 
fered with the race ; in fact, the honour of the Czar would 
be tarnished by such a proceeding. Against such reason- 
ings there could be no opposition; and Broughton only 
took to himself all the benefits he had destined for his 
friend. 

At last the eventful day came ; and although Sir Dudley 
had arranged that Lady Broughton should accompany 
him to the course, she was taken with some kind of ner- 
vous attack that prevented her leaving her bed. Her 
husband was provoked at this ill-timed illness, for he was 
still vain of her appearance in public ; but knowing that 
he could do nothing for hysterics, he sent for Doctor 
Barham; and then with all speed he started for the 
race. 

Among the friends who were to go along with him, the 
count had promised to make one; but despatches — that 
admirable excuse of diplomatists, from the great secretary 
to the humblest unpaid attache — despatches had just 
arrived, and if he could manage to get through his 
business early enough, ' he 'd certainly follow.' 

Scarcely had Sir Dudley reached the ground when a 
carriage drove up to the stand, and a gentleman descended 
in all haste. It was Mr. Taperton, his solicitor — his trusty 
man of loans and discounts for many a day. ' Eh, Tappy ! ' 
cried Broughton, ' come to sport a fifty on the filly ? ' 

'Walk a little this way, Sir Dudley,' said he gravely; 
and his voice soon convinced the hearer that something 
serious was in the wind. 

'What's the matter, man? You look as if Cardinal 
was dead-lame.' 

' Sir Dudley, you must start from this at once. Holds- 
worth has taken proceedings on the bills ; Lord Corthern 



CON CREGAN 107 

has foreclosed ; the whole body of the creditors are up, and 
you '11 be arrested before you leave the field ! ' 

If the threat had conveyed the ignominious penalty of 
felony, Broughton could not have looked more indignant. 
' Arrested ! You don't mean that we cannot raise enough 
to pay these rascals ? ' 

' Your outstanding bills are over twenty thousand, sir.' 

' And if they be ; do you tell me that with my estate ' 

' My dear Sir Dudley, how much of it is unencumbered ? 
what single portion, save the few hundreds a year of Lady 
Broughton's jointure, is not sunk under mortgage ? But 
this is no time for discussion ; get into the chaise with me ; 
we '11 reach London in time for the mail ; to-morrow you 
can be in Boulogne, and then we shall have time at least 
for an arrangement.' 

' The race is just coming off ! how can I leave ? I 'm a 
steward ; besides, I have a tremendous book. Do you 
know how many thousands I stand to win here ? ' 

' To lose, you mean,' said the solicitor. ' You 're sold ! ' 
The words were whispered so low as to be almost inaudible, 
but Broughton actually staggered as he heard them. 

' Sold ! how ? what ? impossible, man ! who could sell 
me?' 

' Only one man, perhaps ; but he has done it ! Is it 
true you have backed Calliope ? ' 

' Yes ! ' said he, staring wildly. 

' She was found hamstrung this morning in the stable, 
then,' said Taperton ; ' if you want to hear further partic- 
ulars you must ask your friend the Count Radchoffsky ! ' 

' The scoundrel ! the black-hearted villain ! I see it all ! ' 
cried Broughton. ' Come, Taperton, let us start ! I '11 go 
with you; by Jove, you have found a way to make me 
eager for the road ! ' 

The lawyer read in the bloodshot eye, and flushed face, 
the passion for vengeance that was boiling within him ; 
but he never spoke as they moved on and entered the 
carriage. 



108 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

It was full three hours before the expected time of his 
return when the chaise in which they travelled drew up 
at the 'Clarendon,' and Broughton, half wild with rage, 
dashed upstairs to the suite of splendid rooms he 
occupied. 

' Oh dear, Sir Dudley ! ' cried the maid, as she saw him 
hastening along the corridor ; ' oh, I 'm sure, sir, how you '11 
alarm my lady if she sees you so flurried ! ' 

'Stand out of the way, woman!' said he roughly, 
endeavouring to push her to one side, for she had actually 
placed herself between him and the door of the drawing- 
room. 

' Surely, sir, you '11 not terrify my lady ! Surely, Sir 
Dudley ' 

Despite her cries, for they had now become such, 
Broughton pushed her rudely from the spot, and entered 
the room. 

Great was his astonishment to find Lady Broughton, 
whom he had left so ill, not only up, but dressed as if for 
the promenade ; her face was flushed, and her eye restless 
and feverish, and her whole manner exhibited the highest 
degree of excitement. 

Broughton threw down his hat upon the table, and then 
returning to the door, locked and bolted it. 

' Good heavens, Dudley ! ' exclaimed she, in a voice of 
terror. ' What has happened ? ' 

' Everything ! ' said he ; ' utter ruin ! The whole crew of 
creditors are in full chase after me, and in a few hours we 
shall be stripped of all we possess.' 

She drew a long full breath as she listened ; and had 
her husband been in a mood to mark it, he might have 
seen how lightly his terrible tidings affected her. 

' I must fly ! Taperton — he 's in the carriage below — says 
France, at least for some weeks, till we can make some 
compromise or other ; but I have one debt that must be 
acquitted before I leave.' 

There was a terrible significance in the words, and 



CON CREGAN 109 

she was sick to the heart as she asked, 'What, and to 
whom ? ' 

' Radchoffsky ! ' cried he savagely ; ' that scoundrel whom 
I trusted like a brother ! ' 

Lady Broughton fell back, and for a moment her 
motionless limbs and pallid features seemed like fainting ; 
but with a tremendous effort rallying herself, she said, 
'Goon!' 

' He betrayed me ! told every circumstance of my book ! 
and the mare I had backed for more than thirty thousand 
is dying this instant! so that I am not only ruined, but 
dishonoured ! ' 

She sat with wide staring eyes and half-open lips 
while he spoke, nor did she seem, in the fearful confusion 
of her fear, to understand fully all he said. 

' Have I not spoken plainly ? ' said he angrily ; ' don't 
you comprehend me, when I say that to-morrow I shall be 
branded as a defaulter at the settling? But enough of 
this. Tell Millar to get a portmanteau ready for me. I '11 
start this evening ; the interval is short enough for all I 
have to do.' As he spoke, he hastened to his bedroom, and 
providing himself with a case containing his duelling 
pistols, he hurried downstairs, ordering the postillion to 
drive to the Russian Embassy. 

The carriage was scarce driven from the door when 
Lady Broughton, taking a key from her pocket, opened a 
small door which led from the drawing-room into her 
dressing-room, from which the count walked forth — his 
calm features unruffled and easy as though no emotion 
had ever stirred them. 

'You heard what Broughton said?' whispered she, in 
an accent of faltering agitation. 

' Oui, parbleu, every word of it ! ' replied he, laughing 
gently. ' The people of the house might almost have heard 
him.' 

'And is it true?' asked she, while a cold sickness crept 
over her, and her mouth was shaken convulsively. 



110 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

' I believe so,' said he calmly. 

' Oh, Alexis, do not say so ! ' cried she, in an agony of 
grief; ' or, least of all, in such a voice as that.' 

He shrugged his shoulders, and then, after a moment's 
pause, said, 'I confess myself quite unprepared for this 
show of affection, madame ' 

'Not so, Alexis. It is for you I am concerned — for 
your honour as a gentleman, for your fair fame among 
men ' 

' Pardon, madame, if I interrupt you ; but the defence 
of my honour must be left to myself ' 

' If I had but thought this of you ' 

' It is never too late for repentance, madame. I should 
be sorry to think I could deceive you.' 

' Oh, it is too late ! far too late ! ' cried she, bursting 
into tears. ' Let us go ! I must never see him again ! I 
would not live over that last half -hour again to save me 
from a death of torture ! ' 

1 Allow me, then,' said he, taking her shawl and draping 
it on her shoulders, ' the carriage is ready ' ; and with 
these words, spoken with perfect calm, he presented his 
arm and led her from the room. 

To return to Sir Dudley. On arriving at the Russian 
Embassy he could learn nothing of the whereabouts of 
him he sought ; a young secretary, however, with whom 
he had some intimacy, drawing him to one side, whispered, 
1 Wait here a moment ; I have a strange revelation to make 
you, but in confidence, remember, for it must not get 
abroad.' The story was this: — Count Radchoffsky had 
been, on his recall from the Embassy, detected in some 
Polish intrigue, and ordered to absent himself from the 
capital, and preserve a life of strict retirement, under 
police ' surveillance ' ; from this he had managed to 
escape and reach England, with forged credentials of 
Envoy Extraordinary, the mission being an invention of 
his own to gain currency in the world, and obtain for 
him loans of large sums from various houses in the ' City.' 



CON CREGAN 111 

'As he knows,' continued Broughton's informant, 'from 
his former experience, the day of our courier's expected 
arrival, he has up to this lived fearlessly and openly ; but 
the despatch having reached us through the French cabinet 
sooner than he expected, his plot is revealed. The great 
difficulty is to avoid all publicity; for we must have no 
magisterial interference, no newspaper or police notoriety ; 
all must be done quietly, and he must be shipped off to 
Russia without a rumour of the affair getting abroad.' 

Broughton heard all this with the dogged satisfaction 
of a man who did not well know whether to be pleased or 
otherwise that an object of personal vengeance had been 
withdrawn from him. 

But not accustomed to dwell long on any subject where 
the main interest of his own line of action was wanting, 
he drove home to his hotel to hasten the preparations for 
his departure. On his arrival at the ' Clarendon,' a certain 
bustle and movement in the hall and on the stairs attracted 
his attention, and before he could inquire the cause, a half- 
whisper, ' There he is ; that 's Sir Dudley ! ' made him turn 
round; the same instant a heavy hand was laid on his 
shoulder, and a man said, ' I arrest you, Sir Dudley 
Broughton, at the suit of Messrs. Worrit and Sneare, 
Lombard Street.' 

' Be calm ; don't make any resistance,' whispered Taper- 
ton in his ear ; ' come upstairs.' They passed on and 
entered the drawing-room, where everything appeared 
in disorder. As for Broughton, he was bewildered and 
stupefied by all he had gone through, and sat in a chair 
staring vacantly at the groups around him, evidently 
unable, through the haze of his disordered faculties, to 
see clearly how, and in what, he was interested in the 
affair. 

' Where 's my lady ? ' whispered Taperton to the valet, 
who stood almost as spell-bound as his master. 

' Gone, sir ; she 's gone,' said the man, in a faint voice. 

' Gone where ? scoundrel ! ' said Sir Dudley, jumping up 



112 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

and seizing him by the throat with both hands, while he 
roared out the words with a savage vehemence that 
startled all the room. 

' Gone away, Sir Dudley,' said the half -choking man ; 
' I saw her drive off in a chaise and pair with Count 
Radchoffsky.' 

Broughton let go his hold, and fell heavily upon his 
face to the ground. A surgeon was called in, who at once 
perceived that the attack was one of apoplexy. For that 
night, and part of the next day, his recovery was almost 
hopeless; for, though repeatedly bled, he gave no signs 
of returning animation, but lay heaving, at intervals, long 
heavy sighs, and respiring with an effort that seemed to 
shake the strong frame in convulsions. 

Youth and bold remedies, however, favoured him, and 
on the third morning he awoke, weak and weary, like one 
who had just reached convalescence after a long and 
terrible fever. His features, his gestures, his very voice, 
were all altered ; there was a debility about him — mental 
and physical — that seemed like premature decay ; and they 
who knew the bold, high-spirited man of a few days 
before, could never have recognised him in the simple- 
looking, vacant, and purposeless invalid, who sat there, 
to all seeming, neither noticing nor caring what happened 
around him. It is true, indeed, few essayed the com- 
parison. Of those who visited him the greater number 
were creditors, curious to speculate on his recovery ; there 
were a couple of reporters, too, for gossiping newspapers, 
desirous of coining a paragraph to amuse the town; but 
no friends — not a man of those who dined, and drank, and 
drove, and played with him. In fact, his fate was soon for- 
gotten even in the very circles of which he had been the 
centre ; nor did his name ever meet mention, save in some 
stale report of a bankruptcy examination, or a meeting 
of creditors to arrange for the liquidation of his debts. 

The wasteful, heedless extravagance of his mode of 
living was urged even to vindictiveness by his creditors ; 



COX C REGAN 113 

so that for three years he remained a prisoner in the 
Fleet ; and it was only when they saw he had no feeling 
of either shame or regret at his imprisonment, that an 
arrangement was at last agreed to, and he was liberated — 
set free to mix in a world in which he had not one tie to 
bind, or one interest to attach him ! 

From that hour forth none ever knew how far his 
memory retained the circumstances of his past life ; he 
never certainly mentioned them to any of those with 
whom he formed companionship ; nor did he renew 
acquaintance with one among his former friends. By 
great exertions on the part of his lawyers, almost a 
thousand a year was secured to him from the wreck of 
his great fortune, the proceeds of a small estate that had 
belonged to his mother. 

On this income he lived some time in total seclusion, 
when, to the astonishment of all, he was again seen about 
town, in company with men of the most equivocal 
character : noted gamblers at hells. ' Legs of Newmarket,' 
and others, to whom report attributed bolder and more 
daring feats of iniquity. "While it was a debated point 
among certain fashionables of the clubs how far he "was 
to be recognised by them, he saved them all the difficulty 
by passing his most intimate friends "without a bow, or 
the slightest sign of recognition. A stern, repulsive frown 
never left his features: and he whose frank, light-hearted 
buoyancy had been a proverb, was grave and silent, rarely 
admitting anything like an intimacy, and avoiding what- 
ever could be called a friendship. 

After a while he was missed from his accustomed 
haunts, and it was said that he had purchased a yacht, 
and amused himself by sea excursions. Then there came a 
rumour of his being in the Carlist insurrection in Spain, 
some said with a high command ; and afterwards he was 
seen in a French voltigeur regiment serving in Africa. 
From all these varied accidents of life he came back to 
London, frequenting, as before, the same play-resorts, and 
13 H 



114 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

betting sums whose amount often trenched upon the 
limits of the bank. If, in his early life, he was a con- 
stant loser, now he invariably won ; and he was actually 
the terror of hell-keepers, whose superstitious fears of 
certain 'lucky ones' are a well-known portion of their 
creed. 

As for himself, he seemed to take a kind of fiendish 
sport in following up this new turn of fortune. It was 
like a Nemesis on those who had worked his ruin! One 
man in particular, a well-known Jew money-lender, of 
great wealth, he pursued with all the vindictive per- 
severance of revenge. He tracked him from London to 
Brighton, to Cheltenham, to Leamington, to Newmarket, 
to Goodwood; he followed him to Paris, to Brussels; 
wherever in any city the man opened a table for play 
there was Broughton sure to be found. 

At last, by way of eluding all pursuit, the Jew went 
over to Ireland — a country where of all others fewest 
resources for his traffic presented themselves; and here 
again, despite change of name, and every precaution of 
secrecy, Broughton traced him out ; and on the night when 
I first met him, he was on his return from a hell on the 
Quays, where he had broken the bank, and arisen a winner 
of above two thousand pounds. 

The peculiar circumstances of that night's adventure 
are easily told. He was followed from the play-table by 
two men, witnesses of his good fortune, who saw that he 
carried the entire sum on his person ; and from his manner 
— a feint I found he often assumed — they believed him to 
be drunk. A row was accordingly organised at the closing 
of the play, the lights were extinguished, and a terrible 
scene of tumult and outrage ensued, whose sole object was 
to rob Broughton of his winnings. 

After a desperate struggle, in which he received the 
wound I have mentioned, he escaped by leaping from a 
window into the street, a feat too daring for his assailants 
to imitate. The remainder is already known ; and I 



CON CREGAN 



115 



have only again to ask niy reader's indulgent pardon 
for this long episode, without which, however, I felt I 
could not have asked his companionship on board the 
Firefly. 



(Sh-v 





the slash of a 
most atrocious 
about thirteen 



THE VOYAGE OUT 

The crew of the Firefly consisted of 
twelve persons, natives of almost as 
many countries. Indeed to see them 
all muster on deck, it was like a little 
congress of European rascality — such 
a set of hang-dog, sullen, reckless 
wretches were they, Halkett, the Eng- 
lishman, being the only one whose 
features were not a criminal indict- 
ment, and he, with his nose split by 
cutlass, was himself no beauty. The 
of all, however, was a Moorish boy, 
years of age, called El Jarasch (the 



fiend), whose diabolical ugliness did not belie the family 



THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 117 

name. His functions on board were to feed and take 
care of two young lion whelps, which Sir Dudley had 
brought with him from an excursion in the interior of 
Africa. Whether from his blood, or the nature of his 
occupation, I know not, but I certainly could trace in his 
features all the terrible traits of the creatures he tended. 
The wide distended nostrils, the bleared and bloodshot 
eyes, the large full-lipped mouth, drawn back by the 
strong muscles at its angles, and the great swollen vessels 
of the forehead, were developed in him, as in the wild 
beasts. He imitated the animals, too, in all his gestures, 
which were sudden and abrupt; the very way he ate, 
tearing his food and rending it in fragments, like a prey, 
showed the type he followed. His dress was handsome, 
almost gorgeous ; a white tunic of thin muslin reached 
to the knees, over which he wore a scarlet cloth jacket, 
open, and without sleeves — this was curiously slashed and 
laced, by a wonderful tissue of gold thread, so delicately 
traceried as to bear the most minute examination ; a belt 
of burnished gold, like a succession of clasps, supported a 
small scimitar, whose scabbard of ivory and gold was of 
exquisite workmanship, the top of the handle being formed 
by a single emerald of purest colour ; his legs were bare, 
save at the ankles, where two rings of massive gold en- 
circled them ; on his feet he wore a kind of embroidered 
slippers, curiously studded with precious stones. A white 
turban of muslin, delicately sprigged with gold, covered his 
head, looped in front by another large emerald, which 
glared and sparkled like an eye in the centre of his fore- 
head. 

This was his gala costume ; but his everyday one 
resembled it in everything, save the actual value of the 
material. Such was El Jarasch, who was to be my com- 
panion and my messmate, a fact which seemed to afford 
small satisfaction to either of us. 

Nothing could less resemble his splendour than the 
simplicity of my costume. Halkett, when ordered to 



118 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

'rig me out,' not knowing what precise place I was to 
occupy on board, proceeded to dress me from the kit of 
the sailor we had left behind in Dublin ; and although, 
by rolling up the sleeves of my jacket, and performing 
the same office for the legs of my trousers, my hands 
and feet could be rendered available to me, no such 
ready method could prevent the clothes bagging around 
me in every absurd superfluity, and making me appear 
more like a stunted monster than a human being. Beside 
my splendidly costumed companion I made, indeed, but a 
sorry figure, nor was it long dubious that he himself 
thought so ; the look of savage contempt he first bestowed 
on me, and then the gaze of ineffable pleasure he accorded 
to himself afterwards, having a wide interval between 
them. Neither did it improve my condition, in his eyes, 
that I could lay claim to no distinct duty on board. While 
I was ruminating on this fact, the morning after I joined 
the yacht, we were standing under easy sail, with a bright 
sky and a calm sea, the south-eastern coast of Ireland 
on our lee, the heaving swell of the blue water, the flutter- 
ing bunting from gaff and peak, the joyous bounding 
motion, were all new and inspiriting sensations, and I was 
congratulating myself on the change a few hours had 
wrought in my fortune, when Halkett came to tell me 
that Sir Dudley wanted to speak with me in his cabin. 
He was lounging on a little sofa when I entered, in a loose 
kind of dressing-gown, and before him stood the materials 
of his yet untasted breakfast. The first effect of my 
appearance was a burst of laughter, and although there 
is nothing I have ever loved better to hear than a hearty 
laugh, his was not of a kind to inspire any very pleasant 
or mirthful sensations. It was a short, husky, barking 
noise, with derision and mockery in every cadence of it. 

' What the devil have we here ? Why, boy, you 'd dis- 
grace a stone-lighter at Sheerness. Who rigged you in 
that fashion ? ' 

' Mr. Halkett, sir.' 



CON CREGAN 119 

' Halkett, if you please ; I know no " misters " among 
my crew. Well, this must be looked to; but Halkett 
might have known better than to send you here in such a 
guise.' 

I made no answer ; and, apparently, for some minutes, 
he forgot all about me, and busied himself in a large 
chart, which covered the table. At last he looked up ; and 
then, after a second or two spent in recalling me to his 
recollection, said, ' Oh, you 're the lad I took up last night ; 
very true ; I wanted to speak with you. What can you do, 
besides what I have seen, for I trust surgery is an art we 
shall seldom find use for — can you cook ? ' 

I was ashamed to say that I could boil potatoes and fry 
rashers, which were all my culinary gifts, and so I replied 
that ' I could not.' 

'Have you never been in any service, or any kind of 
employment ? ' 

' Never, sir.' 

' Always a vagabond ? ' 

'Always, sir.' 

' Well, certes, I have the luck of it ! ' said he, with one 
of his low laughs. ' It is, perhaps, all the better. Come, 
my boy, it does not seem quite clear to me what we can 
make of you ; we have no time, nor, indeed, any patience 
for making sailors of striplings ; we always prefer the 
ready-made article, but you must pick up what you can ; 
keep your watches when on board, and when you go ashore 
anywhere, you shall be my scout ; therefore, don't throw 
away your old rags, but be ready to resume them when 
wanted — you hear ? ' 

'Yes, sir.' 

' So far ! Now, the next thing is, and it is right you 
should know it, though I keep a yacht for my pleasure 
and amusement, I sometimes indulge myself in a little 
smuggling — which is also a pleasure and amusement — and, 
therefore, my people are liable, if detected, to be sentenced 
to a smart term of imprisonment — not that this has yet 



120 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

happened to any of them, but it may, you know — so it is 
only fair to warn you.' 

' 1 11 take my chance with the rest, sir.' 

'Well said, boy! There are other little ventures, too, 
I sometimes make, but you 'd not understand them, so we 
need not refer to them. Now, as to the third point — 
discipline. So long as you are on board, I expect obedience 
in everything ; that you agree with your messmates, and 
never tell a lie. On shore, you may cut each other's throats 
to your hearts' content. Remember, then, the lesson is 
easy enough : if you quarrel with your comrades I '11 flog 
you ; if you ever deceive my by an untruth, I '11 blow your 
brains out ! ' The voice in which he spoke these last few 
words grew harsher and louder ; and, at the end, it became 
almost a shout of angry denunciation. 

' For your private governance, I may say, you '11 find it 
wise to be good friends with Halkett, and if you can, with 
Jarasch. Go now, I 've nothing more to say.' 

I was about to retire, when he called me back. 

'Stay! you've said nothing to me, nor have I to you, 
about your wages.' 

' I want none, sir. It is enough for me if I am provided 
in all money could buy for me.' 

' No deceit, sir ! No trickery with me ! ' cried he fiercely, 
and he glared savagely at me. 

' It is not deceit nor trick either,' said I boldly ; ' but I 
see, sir, it is not likely you'll ever trust one whom you 
saw in the humble condition you found me. Land me, 
then, at the first port you put in to. Leave me to follow 
out my fortune my own way.' 

' What if I take you at your word,' said he, ' and leave 
you among the red Moors, on the coast of Barbary ? ' 

I hung my head in shame and dismay. 

' Ay, or dropped you with the Tongo chiefs, who 'd grill 
you for breakfast ? ' 

' But we are nigh England now, sir.' 

'We shall not long be so,' cried he joyfully. 'If this 



CON CREGAN 121 

breeze last, you '11 see Cape Clear by sunrise, and not look 
on it again at sunset. There, away with you ! Tell Halkett 
I desire that you should be mustered with the rest of the 
fellows, learn the use of a cutlass, and to load a pistol 
without blowing your fingers off.' 

He motioned me now to leave, and I withdrew, if I 
must own it, only partially pleased with my new servitude. 
One word here to explain my conduct, which, perhaps, 
in the eyes of some, may appear inconsistent or im- 
probable. It may be deemed strange and incomprehensible 
why I, poor, friendless, and low-born, should have been 
indifferent, even to the refusal of all wages. The fact is 
this : I had set out upon my ' life pilgrimage ' with a 
most firm conviction that one day or other, sooner or 
later, I should be a ' gentleman ' ; that I should mix on 
terms of equality with the best and the highest, not a 
trace or a clue to my former condition being in any 
respect discoverable. Now, with this one paramount 
object before me, all my endeavours were gradually to 
conform, so far as might be, all my modes of thought 
and action to that sphere wherein yet I should move. 
To learn, one by one, the usages of gentle blood, so that 
when my hour came I should step into my position 
ready suited to all its requirements, and equal to all its 
demands. If this explanation does not make clear 
the reasons of my generosity, and my other motives of 
honourable conduct, I am sorry for it, for I have none 
other to offer. 

I have said that I retired from my interview with Sir 
Dudley not at all satisfied with the result. Indeed, as I 
pondered over it, I could not help feeling that gentlemen 
must dislike any traits of high and honourable motives 
in persons of my own station, as though they were 
assuming the air of their betters. What could rags have 
in common with generous impulses — how could poverty 
and hunger ever consort with high sentiments or noble 
aspirations ? They forgive us, thought I, when we mimic 



122 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

their dress, and pantomime their demeanour, because we 
only make ourselves ridiculous by the imitation ; but when 
we would assume the features that regulate their own 
social intercourse they hate us, as though we sullied, with 
our impure touch, the virtues of a higher class of beings. 

The more I thought over this subject, the more strongly 
was I satisfied that I was correct in my judgment; and, 
sooth to say, the less did I respect that condition in life 
which could deem any man too poor to be high-minded. 

Sir Dudley's anticipations were all correct. The follow- 
ing evening at sunset the great headlands of the south 
of Ireland were seen, at first clear, and, at last, like 
hazy fog-banks; while our light vessel scudded along, 
her prow pointing to where the sun had just set, behind 
the horizon, and then did I learn that we were bound for 
North America. 

Our voyage for some weeks was undistinguished by any 
feature of unusual character. The weather was uniformly 
fine ; steady breezes from the north-east, with a clear sky 
and a calm sea, followed us as we went, so that, in the 
pleasant monotony of our lives, one day exactly resembled 
another. It will, therefore, suffice if, in a few words, I 
tell how the hours were passed. Sir Dudley came on deck 
after breakfast, when I spread out a large white bear's- 
skin for him to lie upon; reclined on which, and with a 
huge meerschaum of great beauty in his hand, he smoked 
and watched the lions at play. These gambols were always 
amusing, and never failed to assemble all the crew to 
witness them. Jarasch, dressed in a light woollen tunic, 
with legs, arms, and neck bare, led them forth by a chain ; 
and, after presenting them to Sir Dudley, from whose 
hands they usually received a small piece of sugar, they 
were then set at liberty, a privilege they soon availed 
themselves of, setting off at full speed around the deck, 
sometimes one in pursuit of the other, sometimes by 
different ways, crossing and recrossing each other; now 
with a bold spring, now with catlike stealthiness, creeping 



CON CREGAN 123 

slowly past. The exercise, far from fatiguing, seemed only 
to excite them more and more, since all this time they 
were in search of the food which Jarasch, with a cunning 
all his own, knew how, each day, to conceal in some new 
fashion. Baffled and irritated by delay, the eyes grew 
red and lustrous, the tails stiffened, and were either 
carried high over the back or extended straight back- 
wards ; they contracted their necks too, till the muscles 
were gathered up in thick massive folds, and then their 
great heads seemed actually fastened on the forepart 
of the trunk. When their rage had been sufficiently 
whetted by delay, Jarasch would bring forth the mess 
in a large ' grog-tub,' covered with a massive lid, on 
which seating himself, and armed with a short stout 
bludgeon, he used to keep the beasts at bay. This, 
"which was the most exciting part of the spectacle, 
presented every possible variety of combat. Sometimes 
he could hold them in check for nigh half an hour, some- 
times the struggle would scarce last five minutes. Now, 
he would, by a successful stroke, so intimidate one of 
his assailants that he could devote all his energies against 
the other. Now, by a simultaneous attack, the savage 
creatures would spring upon and overthrow him, and 
then, with all the semblance of ungovernable passion, they 
would drag him some distance along the deck, mouthing 
him with frothy lips, and striking him about the head 
with their huge paws, from which they would not desist 
till some of the sailors, uncovering the mess, would tempt 
them off by the savour of the food. Although, in general, 
these games passed off with little other damage than a 
torn tunic, or a bruise more or less severe, at others 
Jarasch would be so sorely mauled as to be carried off 
insensible ; nor would he again be seen for the remainder 
of the day. That the combat was not quite devoid of 
peril was clear, by the fact that several of the sailors were 
always armed, some with staves, others with cutlasses, 
since, in the event of a bite, and blood flowing, nothing 



124 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

but immediate and prompt aid could save the boy from 
being devoured. This he knew well, and the exercises 
were always discontinued whenever the slightest cut, or 
even a scratch, existed in any part of his person. Each day 
seemed to heighten the excitement of these exhibitions; 
for, as Jarasch became more skilful in his defence, so did 
the whelps in the mode of attack ; besides that their 
growth advanced with incredible rapidity, and soon 
threatened to make the amusement no longer prac- 
ticable. This display over, Sir Dudley played at chess 
with Halkett, while I, seated behind him, read aloud 
some book — usually one of voyages and travels. In the 
afternoon he went below, and studied works in some 
foreign language of which he appeared most eager to 
acquire a knowledge, and I was then ordered to copy 
out, into a book, various extracts of different routes in 
all parts of the world; sometimes, the mode of crossing 
a Syrian desert ; now the shortest and safest way through 
the wild regions on the shores of the Adriatic. At one 
time the theme would be the steppes of Tartary, or the 
snowy plains of the Ukraine; at another, the dangerous 
passes of the Cordilleras, or the hunting-grounds of the 
Mandans. What delightful hours were these to me — how 
full of the very highest interest; the wildest adventures 
were here united with narratives of real events and 
people, presenting human life in aspects the strangest 
and most varied. How different from my old clerkship 
with my father — with the interminable string of bastard 
and broken law Latin ! I believe that in all my after-life, 
fortunate as it has been in so many respects, I have never 
passed hours more happy than these were. 

In recompense for my secretarial functions I was free 
of the middle watch ; so that, instead of turning into my 
berth at sundown, to snatch some sleep before midnight, 
I could lounge about at will — sometimes dropping into the 
steerage to listen to some seaman's 'yarn' of storm and 
shipwreck, but far oftener, book in hand, taking a lesson 



CON CREGAN 125 

in French from the old cook, for which I paid him in being 
aide-de-cuisine ; or, with more hardy industry, assisting 
our fat German mate to polish up his Regensburg pistols, 
by which I made some progress in that tongue of harsh 
and mysterious gutturals. 

Through all these occupations the thought never left 
me — what could be the object of Sir Dudley's continued 
voyaging ? No feature of pleasure was certainly associated 
with it, as little could it be attributed to the practice of 
smuggling — the very seas he had longest cruised in forbade 
that notion. It must be, thought I, that other reason to 
which he so darkly alluded on the day he called me to his 
cabin; and what could that be? Never was ingenuity 
more tortured than mine by this ever-recurring question, 
since, it is needless to tell the reader, I was not then, nor 
indeed for a very long time afterwards, acquainted with 
those particulars of his history I have already jotted 
down. This intense curiosity of mine would, doubtless, 
have worn itself out at last, but for a slight circumstance 
occurring to keep it still alive within me. The little state- 
room in which I used to write lay at one side of the cabin, 
from which it was entered — no other means of getting to 
it existing ; a heavy silk curtain supplied the place of a 
door between the two ; and this, when four o'clock came, 
and my day's work was finished, was let down till the 
following morning, when it was drawn aside that Sir 
Dudley, from time to time, might see, and if needful, 
speak with me. Now, one day, when we had been about 
three weeks at sea, the weather being intensely hot and 
sultry, Sir Dudley had fallen asleep in his cabin while I 
sat writing away vigorously within. Suddenly, I heard 
a shout on deck — ' The whales ! a shoal of whales ahead ! ' 
and immediately the sudden scuffling of feet, and the 
heavy hum of voices, proclaimed the animation and 
interest the sight created. I strained myself to peep 
through the little one-paned window beside me, but all 
I could see was the great blue heaving ocean, as, in 



126 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

majestic swell, it rolled along. Still the noise continued ; 
and, by the number and tone of the speakers, I could 
detect that all the crew were on deck — every one, in fact, 
save myself. What a disappointment! full as my mind 
was of every monster of land and water, burning to 
observe some of the wonderful things I had read so much 
about, and now destined actually to be denied a sight 
on which my comrades were then gazing ! I could endure 
the thought no longer ; and although my task was each 
morning allotted to me, and carefully examined the next 
day by Sir Dudley, I stepped lightly out on tiptoe, and 
letting fall the curtain so that if he awoke I should not 
be missed, I stole up 'the companion,' and reached the 
deck. 

What a sight was there ! The whole sea around us was 
in motion with the great monsters, who, in pursuit of a 
shoal of herrings, darted at speed through the blue water 
— spouting, blowing, and tossing in all the wildest con- 
fusion; here every eye was bent on a calm still spot in 
the water, where a whale had 'sounded' — that is, gone 
down quite straight into the depths of the sea ; here, 
another was seen scarcely covered by the water, his 
monstrous head and back alternately dipping below, or 
emerging above it. Harpoons and tackle were sought out, 
firearms loaded, and every preparation for attack and 
capture made, but none dared to venture without orders, 
nor was any hardy enough to awake him and ask for 
them. Perhaps the very expectancy on our part increased 
the interest, for certainly the excitement of the scene was 
intense ; so much so, that I actually forgot all about my 
task, and, without a thought of consequences, was hanging 
eagerly over the taffrail in full enjoyment of the wild 
scene, when the tinkle of the captain's bell started me, 
and to my horror I remembered it was now his dinner 
hour, and that, for the rest of the day, no opportunity 
would offer of my reaching the state-room to finish my 
writing. 



CON CREGAN 127 

I was so terrified that I lost all interest in the spectacle, 
whereof, up to that time, my mind was full. It was my 
first delinquency, and had all the poignancy of a first 
fault. The severity I had seen practised on others, for 
even slight infractions of duty, was all before me, and I 
actually debated with myself whether it would not be 
better to jump overboard at once than meet the anger of 
Sir Dudley. With any one else, perhaps, I should have 
bethought me of some cunning lie to account for my 
absence, but he had warned me about trying to deceive 
him, and I well knew he could be as good as his word. I 
had no courage to tell any of the sailors my fault, and ask 
their advice ; indeed, I anticipated what would be the 
result : some brutal jest over my misfortune, some coarse 
allusion to the fate they had often told me portended me, 
since ' no younker had ever gone from land to land with 
Sir Dudley without tasting his hemp fritters.' I sat down, 
therefore, beside the bowsprit, where none should see me, 
to commune alone with my grief, and, if I could, to summon 
up courage to meet my fate. 

Night had closed in some time, and all was tranquil on 
board, when I saw Halkett, as was his custom, going aft 
to the cabin, where he always remained for an hour or 
more each evening. It was just then, I know not how 
the notion occurred, but it struck me that if I could lower 
myself over the side, I might be able to creep through the 
little window into the state-room, and carry away the 
paper to finish it before morning. I lost little time in 
setting about my plot ; and having made fast a rope to 
one of the clews, I lowered myself, fearlessly, over the 
gunwale, and pushing open the little sash, which was 
unfastened, I soon managed to insert my head and 
shoulders, and without any difficulty dragging my body 
slowly after, entered the state-room. So long as the 
danger of the enterprise and its difficulty lasted, so long 
my courage was high and my heart fearless ; but when 
I sat down in the little dark room, scarcely venturing to 



128 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

breathe, lest I should be overheard, almost afraid to touch 
the papers on the table, lest their rustling noise should 
betray me, how was this terror increased when I actually 
heard the voices of Sir Dudley and Halkett as plainly as 
though I were in the cabin beside them ! 

'And so, Halkett,' said Sir Dudley, 'you think this 
expedition will be as fruitless as the others ? ' 

' I do, sir,' said the other, in a low, dogged tone. 

' And yet you were the very man who encouraged me 
to make it ! ' 

' And what of that ! Of two things, I thought it more 
likely that he should be the leader of a band to a regiment 
in Canada, than be a Faquino on the Mole of Genoa. A 
fellow like him could scarcely fall so low as that.' 

' He shall fall lower, by heaven, if I live ! ' said Sir 
Dudley, in a voice rendered guttural with deep passion. 

' Take care you fall not with him, sir,' said Halkett, in 
a tone of warning. 

' And if I should — for what else have I lived these three 
last years ? In that pursuit have I perilled health and life, 
satisfied to lose both if I but succeed at last.' 

' And how do you mean to proceed ? for, assuredly, if 
he be attached to the regiment at Kingston he 11 hear of 
you, from some source or other. You remember, when 
we all but had him at Torlosk, and yet he heard of our 
coming before we got two posts from Warsaw ; and again, 
at " Forli," we had scarce dropped anchor off Rimini when 
he was up and away.' 

' I '11 go more secretly to work this time, Halkett : 
hitherto I have been slow to think the fellow a coward. 
It is so hard to believe anything so base, as a man bereft 
of every trait of virtue ; now I see clearly that he is so. 
1 11 track him, not to offer him the chances of a duel — but 
to hunt him down as I would a wild beast. I'll proceed 
up the river in the disguise of an itinerant merchant — one 
of those pedlar fellows of which this land is full — taking 
the Irish dog along with me.' 



CON CREGAN 129 

' Of whom, remember, you know nothing, sir,' interposed 
Halkett. 

' Nor need to know,' said he, impatient at the inter- 
ruption. ' Let him play me false ; let me only suspect that 
he means it, and my reckoning with him will be short. I 
have watched him closely of late, and I see the fellow's 
curiosity is excited about us ; he is evidently on the alert 
to learn something of our object in this voyage ; but the 
day he gains the knowledge, Tom, will be his last to enjoy 
it. It is a cheap process if we are at sea — a dark night and 
an eighteen-pound shot ! If on shore, I '11 readily find some 
one to take the trouble off my hands.' 

It may be imagined with what a sensation of terror I 
heard these words, feeling that my actual position at the 
moment would have decided my fate, if discovered ; and 
yet, with all this, I could not stir, nor make an effort to 
leave the spot ; a fascination to hear the remainder of 
the conversation had thoroughly bound me as by a 
spell, and in breathless anxiety I listened as Sir Dudley 
resumed. 

' You, with Heckenstein and the Greek, must follow, 
ready to assist me when I need your aid ; for my plan is 
this : I mean to entice the fellow, on pretence of a pleasure 
excursion, a few miles from the town, into the bush, there 
to bind him hand and foot, and convey him, by the forest 
tracks, to the second " portage," where the batteaux are 
stationed, by one of which — these Canadian fellows are 
easily bribed — we shall drop down to Montreal ; there the 
yacht shall be in waiting all ready for sea. Even without 
a wind, three days will bring us off the Island of Orleans, 
and as many more, if we be but fortunate, to the Gulf. 
The very worst that can happen is discovery and detection, 
and if that ensue, I '11 blow his brains out.' 

' And if we succeed in carrying him off, Sir Dudley, 
what then ? ' 

'I have not made up my mind, Halkett, what I'll do. 
I 've thought of a hundred schemes of vengeance ; but, 
13 I 



130 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

confound it, I must be content with one only, though fifty 
deaths would not satisfy my hate.' 

? I 'd put a bullet through his skull, or swing him from 
the yard-arm, and make an end of it,' said Halkett roughly. 

' Not I, 'faith ; he shall live ; and, if I can have my will, 
a long life too. His own government would take charge 
of him at " Irkutsk," for that matter at the quicksilver 
mines ; and they say the diseased bones, from the absorp- 
tion of that poison, is a terrible punishment. But I have 
a better notion still. Do you remember that low island 
off the east shore of the Niger, where the negro fellows 
live in log-huts, threshing the water all day to keep the 
caymans from the rice-grounds ?' 

' The devil ! ' exclaimed Halkett, ' you '11 not put him 
there ? ' 

' I have thought of it very often,' said Sir Dudley calmly. 
' He 'd see his doom before him every day, and dream of it 
each night too. One cannot easily forget that horrid 
swamp, alive and moving with those reptiles ! It was 
nigh two months ere I could fall asleep at night without 
starting up in terror at the thought of them.' Sir Dudley 
arose as he said this, and walked the cabin with impatient 
steps ; sometimes as he passed his arm would graze the 
curtain, and shake its folds, and then my heart leaped to 
my mouth in very terror. At last, with an effort that I 
felt as the last chance of life, I secured the papers in my 
bosom, and, standing up on the seat, crept through the 
window, and, after a second's delay to adjust the rope, 
clambered up the side, and gained the deck unobserved. 
It could not have been real fatigue, for there was little or 
no exertion in the feat; but yet such was my state of 
exhaustion that I crept over to the boat that was fastened 
midships, and lying down in her, on a coil of cable, slept 
soundly till morning. If my boyish experiences had 
familiarised my mind with schemes of vengeance as 
terrible as ever fiction fabricated, I had yet to learn that 
' gentlemen ' cherished such feelings, and I own the 



CON CREGAN 131 

discovery gave me a tremendous shock. That some awful 
debt of injury was on Sir Dudley's mind was clear enough, 
and that I was to be, in some capacity or other, an aid to 
him in acquitting it, was a fact I was more convinced of than 
pleased at. Neither did I fancy his notions of summary 
justice ; perhaps it was my legal education had prejudiced 
me in favour of more formal proceedings ; but I saw, with 
a most constitutional horror, the function of justice, jury, 
and executioner, in the hands of one single individual. 

So impressed was I with these thoughts that had I not 
been on the high seas I should inevitably have run for it. 
Alas, however, the banks of Newfoundland — which, after 
all I had heard mentioned on our voyage, I imagined to be 
grassy slopes, glittering with daisies, and yellow with 
daffodils — are but sand heaps, some two hundred fathoms 
down in the ocean blue ; and all one ever knows of them 
is the small geological specimens brought up on the 
tallowed end of the deep-sea lead. Escape, therefore, 
was for the present out of the question ; but the steady 
determination to attempt it was spared me, by a circum- 
stance that occurred about a week later. 

After some days of calm, common enough in these 
latitudes, a slight but steady breeze set in from the north- 
east, which bore us up the Gulf with easy sail, till we came 
in sight of the long, low island of Anticosti, which, like 
some gigantic monster, raises its dark misshapen beach 
above the water — not the slightest trace of foliage or 
verdure to give it a semblance to the aspect of land ! Two 
dreary-looking log-houses, about eighteen miles apart, 
remind one that a refuge for the shipwrecked is deemed 
necessary in this dangerous channel; but, except these, 
not a trace exists to show that the foot of man had trod 
that dreary spot. 

The cook's galley is sure to have its share of horrors 
when a ship 'lies to' near this gloomy shore; scarcely 
a crew exists where some one belonging to it has not 
had a messmate wrecked there; and then, the dreadful 



132 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

narratives of starvation, and strife, and murders were too 
fearful to dwell on. Among the horrors recorded on 
every hand all agreed in speaking of a terrible character 
who had never quitted the island for upwards of forty 
years. He was a sailor who had committed a murder 
under circumstances of great atrocity, and dared not 
revisit the mainland for fear of the penalty of his guilt. 
Few had ever seen him ; for years back, indeed, he had not 
been met with at all, and rumour said that he was dead. 
Still no trace of his body could be found, and some 
inclined to the opinion that he might at last have made 
his escape. 

He was a negro, and was described as possessing the 
strength of three or four men ; and although the pro- 
verbial exaggeration of sailors might, and very probably 
did, colour these narratives, the sad fate of more than one 
party who had set out to capture him gave the stories a 
terrible air of truth. The fear of him was such, that 
although very liberal terms had been offered to induce 
men to take up their abode in the island to succour the 
crews of wrecked vessels, none could be found to accept 
the post ; and even at the period when I visited these seas, 
and after a long lapse of years since the Black Boatswain 
had been seen, no one would venture. 

The story went that his ghost still wandered there, 
and that at night, when the storm was high, and the 
waves of the Gulf sent the spray over that low and 
dreary island, his cries could be heard, calling aloud to 
' shorten sail, to brace round the yards, close the hatch- 
ways,' mingled with blasphemies that made the very hair 
stand on end. 

If the reader, armed with the triple mail of incredulity, 
so snugly ensconced in his easy-chair, before a sea-coal 
fire, can afford to scoff at such perils, not so did I, as I sat 
in a corner of the galley gathering with greedy ears the 
horrors that fell on every side, and now and then stealing 
out to cast a glance over the bulwarks at the long low 



CON CREGAN 133 

bank of sand, which seemed more like an exhalation from 
the water than a solid mass of rock and shingle. 

I have said that a feeling of rivalry existed between 
the Moorish boy, El Jarasch, and myself, and although I 
endured the scoffs and sneers at first with a humility my 
own humble garb and anomalous position enforced, I soon 
began to feel more confidence in myself, and that species 
of assurance a becoming dress seems somehow to inspire ; 
for I was now attired like the rest of the crew, and wore 
the name of the yacht in gold letters on my cap, as well as 
on the breast of my waistcoat. 

The hatred of El Jarasch increased with every day, and 
mutual scoffs and gibes were the only intercourse between 
us. More than once, Halkett, who had always befriended 
me, warned me of the boy, and said that his Moorish blood 
was sure to make his vengeance felt ; but I only laughed 
at his caution, and avowed myself ready to confront him 
when and however he pleased. Generosity was little 
wasted on either side, so that when one day, in a fierce 
encounter with the lions, El Jarasch received a fall which 
broke one of his ribs, and was carried in a state of insensi- 
bility to his berth, I neither pitied him nor regretted his 
misfortune. I affected even to say that his own cowardice 
had rendered the creatures more daring, and that had he 
preserved a bolder front the mischance would have never 
occurred. These vauntings of mine, coupled with an 
avowed willingness to take his place, came to Sir Dudley's 
ears on the third evening after the accident, and he imme- 
diately sent for me to his cabin. 

' Is it true, sirrah ? ' said he, in a harsh, unpleasant voice, 
' that you have been jesting about Jarasch, and saying that 
you were ready to take charge of the whelps in his stead ? ' 

' It is,' said I, answering both questions together. 

' You shall do so to-morrow, then,' replied he solemnly ; 
' take care that you can do something as well as boast ! ' 
and with this he motioned me to leave the cabin. 

I at once repaired to the steerage to report my interview 



134 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

to the men, who were all more friendly with me than with 
the Moor. Many were the counsels I received about how I 
should conduct myself the next morning — some asserting 
that, as it was my first time, I could not be too gentle with 
the animals, avoiding the slightest risk of hurting them, 
and even suffering their rough play without any effort to 
check it. Others, on the contrary, advised me at once to 
seek the mastery over the beasts, and by two or three 
severe lessons to teach them caution if not respect. This 
counsel, I own, chimed in with my own notions, and also 
better accorded with what, after my late vauntings, I felt 
to be my duty. 

It was altogether a very anxious night with me, not 
exactly through fear, because I knew, as the men were 
always ready with their arms loaded, life could not be 
perilled, and I did not dread the infliction of a mere sprain 
or fracture, but I felt it was an ordeal wherein my fame 
was at stake. Were I to acquit myself well, there would 
be an end for ever of those insulting airs of superiority 
the Moorish boy had assumed towards me. Whereas, if 
I failed, I must consent to bear his taunts and sarcasms 
without a murmur. 

In one point only the advice of all the crew agreed, 
which was that the female cub, much larger and more 
ferocious than the male, should more particularly demand 
my watchfulness. ' If she scratch you, boy, mind that you 
desist,' said an old Danish sailor, who had been long on the 
African coast. This caution was re-echoed by all; and 
resolving to follow its dictates, I ' turned in ' to my 
hammock, to dream of combats and battles till morning. 

I was early astir — waking with a sudden start. I had 
been dreaming of a lion-hunt, and fancied I heard the 
deep-mouthed roaring of the beasts in a jungle. And, true 
enough, a low monotonous howl came from the place 
where the animals lay, for it was now the fourth morning 
of their being confined without having been once at liberty. 

I had just completed my dressing — the costume was 



CON CREGAN 135 

simply a short pair of loose trousers, hand, arms, and feet 
bare, and a small fez cap on my head — when Halkett 
came down to me to say that he had been speaking to Sir 
Dudley about the matter, and that as I had never yet 
accustomed myself to the whelps, it was better that I 
should not begin the acquaintance after they had been 
four days in durance. ' At the same time,' added Halkett, 
' he gives you the choice ; you can venture if you please.' 

' I 've made up my mind,' said I. ' I 'm sure I 'm able 
for anything the black fellow can do.' 

' My advice to you, boy,' said he, ' is to leave them alone. 
Those Moorish chaps are the creatures' countrymen, and 
have almost the same kind of natures — they are stealthy, 
treacherous, and cruel. They never trust anything — man 
or beast ! ' 

' No matter ! ' said I. ' I 'm as strong as he is, and my 
courage is not less.' 

4 If you will have it so, I have nothing to say ; indeed, I 
promised Sir Dudley I 'd give you no advice one way or 
other; so now get the staff from Jarasch, and come on 
deck.' 

The staff was a short thick truncheon of oak, tipped 
with brass at each end, and the only weapon ever used by 
the boy in his encounters. 

' So you 're going to take my place ! ' said the black 
fellow, while his dark eyes were lighted up like coals of 
fire, and his white teeth glanced between his purple lips. 
1 Don't hurt my poor pet cubs ; be gentle with them.' 

' Where 's the staff ? ' said I, not liking the tone in which 
he spoke, or well knowing if he affected earnest or jest. 

' There it is,' said he ; ' but your white hands will be 
enough without that. You'll not need the weapon the 
coward used ! ' and as he spoke a kind of shuddering con- 
vulsion shook his frame from head to foot. 

' Come, come ! ' said I, stretching out my hand ; ' I ought 
not to have called you a coward, Jarasch — that you are 
not ! I ask you to forgive me ; will you ? ' 



136 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

He never spoke, but nestled lower down in the hammock, 
so that I could not even see his face. 

' There, they 're calling me already. I must be off ! Let 
us shake hands and be friends this time at least. When 
you 're well and up we can fight it out about something else !' 

' Kiss me, then,' said he ; and though I had no fancy for 
the embrace, or the tone it was asked in, I leaned over the 
hammock, and while he placed one arm round my neck, 
and drew me towards him, I kissed his forehead, and he 
mine, in true Moorish fashion ; and not sorry to have made 
my peace with my only enemy, I stepped up the ladder 
with a light heart and a firm courage. 

I little knew what need I had for both ! When Jarasch 
had put his arm around my neck, I did not know that he 
had inserted his hand beneath the collar of my shirt, and 
drawn a long streak of blood from his own vein across 
my back between my shoulders. When I arrived on deck, 
it was to receive the congratulations of the crew, who 
were all struck with my muscular arms and legs, and who 
unanimously pronounced that I was far fitter to exercise 
the whelps than was the Moor. 

Sir Dudley said nothing. A short nod greeted me as I 
came towards him, and then he waved me back with his 
hand — a motion which, having something contemptuous in 
it, pained me acutely at the moment. I had not much time, 
however, to indulge such feelings. The whelps were already 
on deck, and springing madly at the wooden bars of their 
cage for liberty. Eager as themselves, I hastened to 
unbolt the door and set them free. 

No sooner were they at large than they set off down one 
side of the deck and up the other, careering at full speed, 
clearing with a bound whatever stood in their way ; and 
when by any chance meeting each other, stopping for an 
instant to stare with glaring eyes and swelling nostrils, 
and then, either passing stealthily and warily past, or one 
would crouch while the other cleared him at a spring, and 
so off again. In all this I had no part to play. I could 



CON CREGAN 137 

neither call them back, like Jarasch, whose voice they 
knew, nor had I his dexterity in catching them as they 
went, and throwing all manner of gambols over and upon 
them, as he did. 

I felt this poignantly, the more as I saw, or thought I 
saw, Sir Dudley's eyes upon me more than once, with an 
expression of disdainful pity. At last the great tub which 
contained the creatures' food was wheeled forward; and 
no sooner had the men retired, than the quick-scented 
animals were on the spot — so rapidly, indeed, that I had 
barely time to seat myself, crosslegged, on the lid, when 
they approached, and with stately step walked round the 
vessel, staring as it were in surprise at the new figure who 
disputed their meal with them. 

At last the male placed one paw on the lid, and with 
the other tapped me twice or thrice on the shoulder with 
the kind of gentle, pattering blow a cat will sometimes use 
with a mouse. It was a sort of mild admonition to ' leave 
that,' nothing of hostility whatever being announced. 

I replied by imitating the gesture, so far as a, half -closed 
fist would permit, and struck him on the side of the head. 
He looked grave at this treatment, and, slowing descending 
from his place, he lay down about a yard off. Meanwhile 
the female, who had been smelling and sniffing round and 
round the tub, made an effort to lift the lid with her head, 
and failing, began to strike it in sharp, short blows with 
her paw, the excitement of her face, and the sturdy 
position of her hind legs, showing that her temper was 
chafed at the delay. To increase her rage, I pushed the lid 
a few inches back ; and as the savoury steam arose, the 
creature grew more eager, and at last attracted the other 
to the spot. 

It was quite clear that hunger was the passion upper- 
most with them, and that they had not yet connected me 
with the cause of their disappointment, for they laboured 
by twenty devices to insert a paw or to smash the lid, but 
never noticed me in the least. Wearied of my failures to 



138 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

induce them to play, and angry at the indifference they 
manifested to me, I sprang from the lid, and, lifting it 
from the tub, flung it back. In an instant they had each 
their heads in the mess; the female had even her great 
paw in the midst of the tub, and was eating away with 
that low, gurgling growl peculiar to the wild beast. 

Dashing right between them, I seized one by the throat 
with both hands and hurled him back upon the deck. A 
shout of ' Bravo ! ' burst from the crew at the boldness of 
the feat, and with a bound the fellow made at me. I 
dropped suddenly on one knee as he came, and struck him 
with the staff on the forelegs. Had he been shot, he could 
not have fallen more rapidly ; down he went, like a dead 
mass, on the deck. To spring on his back, and hold him 
fast down, was the work of a second, while I belaboured 
him about the head with my fists. 

The stunning effect of his first fall gave me the victory 
for a moment, but he soon rallied, and attacked me boldly. 
It was now a fair fight ; for, if I sometimes succeeded in 
making him shake his huge head or drop his paw with 
pain, more than once he staggered me with a blow, which, 
had it been only quickly followed, would soon have decided 
the struggle. At last, after a scuffle in which he had 
nearly vanquished me, he made a leap at my throat. I 
put in a blow of such power with the staff on the fore- 
head, that he gave a load roar of pain, and, with drooping 
tail, slunk to hide away himself beneath a boat. 

Up to this moment the female had never stirred from 
the mess of food, but continued eating and snarling as 
though every mouthful was a battle. Scarcely, however, 
had the roar of the other cub been heard, than she lifted 
her head, and, slowly turning round, stared at me with an 
expression which, even now, my dreams will recall. 

I had not yet recovered from the exhaustion of my late 
encounter, and was half sitting, half kneeling on the deck, 
as the whelp stood glowering at me, with every vein in 
her vast forehead swollen, and her large, red eyes seeming 




I <J 



CON CREGAN 139 

to dilate as she looked. The attitude of the creature must 
have beeu striking, for the crew cheered with a heartiness 
that showed how much they admired her. 

So long as I sat unmoved she never stirred ; but when 
I prepared to arise, she gave one bound, and striking me 
with her head, hurled me back upon the deck. Her own 
impulse had carried her clean over me, and when she 
returned I was already up, on my knees, and better pre- 
pared to receive her. Again she tried the same manoeuvre ; 
but this time I leaped to my feet, and springing on one 
side, struck her a heavy blow on the top of the head. 
Twice or thrice the same attack, with the same result, 
followed ; and at each blow a gallant cheer from the men 
gave me fresh courage. 

The beast was now excited to a dreadful degree, but 
her very passion favoured me, for her assaults were wilder 
and less circumspect than at first. At length, just as I was 
again making the side leap by which I had escaped, my 
foot slipped, and I fell. I was scarcely down ere she was 
upon me, not, as before, to strike with her paws, but, with 
a rude shock, she threw herself across me, as if to crush 
me by her weight; while her huge head, and terrific 
mouth, frothy and steaming, lay within a few inches of 
my face. 

Halkett and two others advanced to my rescue ; but I 
bade them go back, and leave me to myself, for I was only 
wearied, not conquered. For some minutes we lay thus ; 
when at length, having recovered strength once more, I 
grasped the whelp's throat with both hands, and then by 
a tremendous effort, threw her back and rolled myself 
uppermost. She soon shook herself free, however, and 
turned upon me. I was now on my knees, and with the 
staff I dealt her a fierce blow on the leg. A terrific howl 
followed, and she closed with me in full fury. Seizing my 
shirt, she tore it away from my breast, and with her paw 
upon the fragment, ripped it in a hundred pieces. I 
endeavoured to catch her by the throat once more, but 



140 THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 

failed, and rolled over on my face, and in doing so disclosed 
the bloody streak between my shoulders ; she saw it, and 
at the same instant sprang on me. I felt her teeth as they 
met in my neck, while her terrible cry, the most appalling 
ears ever heard, rang through my brain. 

' Save him ! save him ! she 's killing him ! ' were now 
heard on every side; but none dared to fire for fear of 
wounding me, and the terrible rage of the animal deterred 
all from approaching her. The struggle was now a life- 
and-death one; and alternately falling and rolling, we 
fought — I cannot tell how — for the blood blinded me, as it 
came from a wound in my forehead ; and I only felt one 
firm purpose in my heart — ' If I fall, she shall not survive 
me.' Several of the sailors came near enough to strike 
her with their cutlasses, but these wounds only increased 
her rage, and I cried to them to desist. 

'Shoot her! put a bullet through her!' cried Halkett. 
' Let none dare to shoot her ! ' cried Sir Dudley loudly. I 
just heard these words, as, after a fierce struggle, in which 
she had seized me by the shoulder, I fell against the 
bulwark. With a last effort I staggered to my knees, 
flung open the gangway, and then, with an exertion that 
to myself seemed my very last on earth, I seized her by 
the throat and hurled her backwards into the sea. On 
hands and knees I leaned forward to see her, as the rapid 
Gulf-stream, hurrying onward to the ocean, bore her 
away ; and then, as my sight grew fainter, I fell back upon 
the deck, and believed I was dying. 





mi 



MEANS AND MEDITATIONS 



T was the second evening after 
my lion adventure, and I was 
stretched in my hammock in a 
low, half -torpid state, not a 
limb nor a joint in all my body that had not its own 
peculiar pain ; while a sharp wound in my neck, and 
another still deeper one in the fleshy part of my shoulder, 
had just begun that process called 'union' — one which, I 
am bound to say, however satisfactory in result, is often 
very painful in its progress. The slightest change of 



142 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

position gave me intolerable anguish ; as I lay, with closed 
eyes and crossed hands, not a bad resemblance of those 
stone saints one sees upon old tombstones. 

My faculties were clear and acute, so that, having 
abundant leisure for the occupation, I had nothing better 
to do than take a brief retrospect of my late life. Such 
reviews are rarely satisfactory, or rather, one rarely thinks 
of making them when the ' score of the past ' is in our 
favour. Up to this moment it was clear I had gained little 
but experience; I had started light, and I had acquired 
nothing, save a somewhat worse opinion of the world and 
a greater degree of confidence in myself. I had but one 
way of balancing my account with Fortune, which was by 
asking myself, • Would I undo the past, if in my power ? 
Would I wish once more to be back in my " father's mud 
edifice," now digging a drain, now drawing an indictment 
— a kind of pastoral pettifogger, with one foot in a potato 
furrow and the other in petty sessions ? ' I stoutly said 
' No ! ' a thousand times ' No ! ' to this question. 

I could not ask myself as to my preference for a 
university career, for my college life had concluded 
abruptly, in spite of me; but still, during my town 
experiences, I saw enough to leave me no regrets at 
having quitted the muses. The life of a ' skip,' as the 
Trinity men have it — vice gyp., for the Greek word 
signifying a ' vulture ' — is only removed by a thin sheet of 
silver paper from that of a cabin boy in a collier — copious 
pommelling and short prog being the first two articles of 
your warrant, while in some respects the marine has a 
natural advantage over him on shore. A skip is invariably 
expected to invent lies ' at discretion ' for his master's 
benefit, and is always thrashed when they are either 
discovered or turn out adverse. On this point his educa- 
tion is perfectly ' Spartan ' ; but, unhappily too, he is 
expected to be a perfect mirror of truth on all other 
occasions. This is somewhat hard, inasmuch as it is only 
in a man's graduate course that he learns to defend a 



CON CREGAN 143 

paradox, and support, by good reasons, what he knows to 
be false. 

Again, a skip never receives clothes, but is flogged at 
least once a week for disorders in his dress, and for general 
untidiness of appearance ; this, too, is hard, since he has as 
little intercourse with soap as he has with conic sections. 

Thirdly, a good skip invariably obtains credit for his 
master at 'Foles's' chop-house; while, in his own proper 
capacity, he would not get trust for a cheese-paring. 

Fourthly, a skip is supposed to be born a valet, as some 
are born poets — to have an instinctive aptitude for all the 
details of things he has never seen or heard of before ; so 
that when he applies Warren's patent to French leather 
boots, polishes silver with a Bath-brick, blows the fire with 
a quarto, and cuts candles with a razor, he finds it passing 
strange that he should be 'had up' for punishment. To 
be fat without food, to be warm without fire, to be wakeful 
without sleep, to be clad without clothes, to be known as 
a vagabond, and to pass current for unblemished honesty, 
to be praised as a liar, and then thrashed for lying — is too 
much to expect at fifteen years of age. 

Lastly, as to Betty's, I had no regrets. The occupation 
of horse-boy, like the profession of physic, has no avenir. 
The utmost the most aspiring can promise to himself is to 
hold more horses than his neighbours, as the doctor's 
success is to order more senna. There is nothing beyond 
these ; no higher path opens to him who feels the necessity 
for an upward course. It is a ladder with but one round 
to it ! No, no ; I was right to ' sell out ' there. 

My steeplechase might have led to something — that is, 
I might have become a jockey ; but then again, one's light 
weight, like a contralto voice, is sure to vanish after 
a year or two ; and then, from the heyday of popularity, 
you sink down into a bad groom or a fourth-rate tenor, 
just as if, after reaching a silk gown at the bar, a man had 
to begin life again as crier in the Exchequer ! Besides, in 
all these various walks, I should have had the worst of all 



144 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

trammels, a patron. Now, if any resolve had thoroughly 
fixed itself in my mind, it was this, never to have a patron, 
never to be bound to any man, who, because he had once 
set you on your legs, should regulate the pace you were to 
walk through a long life. To do this, one should be born 
without a particle of manhood's spirit — absolutely without 
volition — otherwise you go through life a living lie, talking 
sentiments that are not yours, and wearing a livery in 
your heart as well as on your back ! 

Why do we hear such tirades about the ingratitude of 
men, who, being once assisted by others — their inferiors in 
everything save gold — soar above the low routine of 
toadyism, and rise into personal independence? Let us 
remember that the contract was never a fair one, and that 
a whole life's degradation is a heavy sum to pay for a 
dinner with his grace, or a cup of tea with her highness. 
' My lord,' I am aware, thinks differently ; and it is one of 
the very pleasant delusions of his high station to fancy 
that little folk are dependent upon him — what conse- 
quence they obtain among their fellows by his recognition 
in public, or by his most careless nod in the street. But 
' my lord ' does not know that this is a paper currency 
that represents no capital, that it is not convertible at 
will, and is never a legal tender, and consequently, as a 
requital for actual bond fide services, is about as honest a 
payment as a flash-note. 

It was no breach of my principle that I accepted Sir 
Dudley's offer. Our acquaintance began by my rendering 
him a service ; and I was as free to leave him that hour, 
and, I own, as ready to do so, if occasion permitted, as he 
could be to get rid of me ; and it was not long before the 
occasion presented itself for exercising these views. 

As I lay thus, ruminating on my past fortunes, Halkett 
descended the steerage-ladder, followed by Felborg the 
Dane, and, approaching my hammock, held a light to my 
face for a few seconds. ' Still asleep ? ' said Halkett. ' Poor 
boy ! he has never awoke since I dressed his wound this 
morning. I 'm sure it 's better, so let us leave him so.' 



CON CREGAN 145 

' Ay, ay,' said the Dane, ' let him sleep ; bad tidings 
come soon enough, without one's being awoke to hear 
them. But do you think he '11 do it ? ' added he, with 
lower and more anxious tone. 

' He has said so, and I never knew him fail in his 
promise when it was a cruel one.' 

' Have you no influence over him, Halkett ? could you 
not speak for the boy ? ' 

' I have done all I could, more than perhaps it was safe to 
do. I told him I couldn't answer for the men, if he were to 
shoot him on board ; and he replied to me short, " I'll take 
the fellow ashore with me alone — neither you nor they 
have any right to question what you are not to "witness." ' 

' Well, when I get back to Elsinore, it 's to a prison and 
heavy irons I shall go for life, that 's certain ; but I 'd face 
it all rather than live the life we 've done now for twenty 
months past.' 

' Hush ! speak low ! ' said the other. ' I suppose others 
are weary of it as well as you. Many a man has to live a 
bad life just because he started badly.' 

' I 'm sorry for the boy ! ' sighed the Dane ; ' he was a 
bold and fearless fellow.' 

' I am sorry for him too. It was an evil day for him 
when he joined us. Well, well, what would he have 
become if he had lived a year or two on board ? ' 

• He has no father nor mother,' said the Dane, ' that 's 
something. I lost mine, too, when I was nine years old, 
and it made me the reckless devil I became ever after. I 
wasn't sixteen when the crew of the Tre-Kroner mutinied, 
and I led the party that cut down the first-lieutenant. It 
was a moonlight night, just as it might be now, in the 
middle watch, and Lieutenant CEldenstrom was sitting aft, 
near the wheel, humming a tune. I walked aft, with my 
cutlass in one hand, and a pistol in the other ; but just as 
I stepped up the quarter-deck my foot slipped, and the 
cutlass fell with a clank on the deck. 

' " What 's that ? " cried the lieutenant. 
13 K 



146 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

' " Felborg, sir, mate of the watch," said I, standing fast 
where I was. " It 's shoaling fast ahead, sir." 

' " D n ! " said he, " what a coast ! " 

' " Couldn't you say a bit of something better than 
that ? " said I, getting nearer to him slowly. 

'"What do you mean?" said he, jumping up angrily; 
but he was scarce on his legs when he was down again at 
his full length on the plank, with a bullet through his 
brain, never to move again ! ' 

' There, there, avast with that tale ! you 've told it to 
me every night that my heart was heavy this twelvemonth 
past. But I've hit on a way to save the lad — will you 
help me ? ' 

' Ay, if my help doesn't bring bad luck on him ; it always 
has on every one I befriended since — since ' 

' Never mind that. There 's no risk here, nor much room 
for luck, good or bad.' He paused a second or two, then 
added — 

' I 'm thinking we can't do better than shove him ashore 
on the island yonder.' 

' On Anticosti ! ' said Felborg, with a shudder. 

' Ay, why not ? There 's always a store of biscuit and 
fresh water in the log-houses, and the cruisers touch there 
every six or seven weeks to take people off. He has but to 
hoist the flag to show he 's there.' 

' There 's no one there now,' said the Dane. 

' No. I saw the flagstaff bare yesterday ; but what 
does that matter ? a few days or a few weeks alone are 
better than what 's in store for him here.' 

' I don't think so. No ! Beym alia Deyvelm ! I 'd stand 
the bullet at three paces, but I 'd not meet that negro chap 
alone.' 

' Oh, he's dead and gone this many a year,' said Halkett. 
' When the Rodney transport was wrecked there, two 
years last fall, they searched the island from end to end, 
and couldn't find a trace of him. They were seven weeks 
there, and it's pretty clear if he were alive -' 



CON CREGAN 147 

1 Ay, just so — if he were alive.' 

' Nonsense man — you don't believe those yarns they get 
up to frighten the boys in the cook's galley.' 

' It 's scarce mercy, to my reckoning,' said Felborg, ' to 
take the lad from a quick and short fate, and leave him 
yonder ; but, if you need my help, you shall have it.' 

' That 's enough,' said Halkett ; ' go on deck, and look 
after the boat. None of our fellows will betray us ; and in 
the morning we '11 tell Sir Dudley that he threw himself 
overboard in the night, in a fit of frenzy. He '11 care little 
whether it 's true or false.' 

' I say, Con — Con, my lad,' said Halkett as soon as the 
other had mounted the ladder; 'wake up, my boy, I've 
something to tell you.' 

' I know it,' said I, wishing to spare time, which I 
thought might be precious, ' I 've been dreaming all 
about it.' 

' Poor fellow, his mind is wandering,' muttered Halkett 
to himself. ' Come, my lad, try and put on your clothes — 
here 's your jacket,' and with that he lifted me from my 
hammock and began to help me to dress. 

' I was dreaming, Halkett,' said I, ' that Sir Dudley sent 
me adrift in the punt, and fired at me with the swivel, but 
that you rowed out and saved me.' 

' That 's just it ! ' said Halkett, with an energy that 
showed how the supposed dream imposed upon him. 

' You put me ashore on Anticosti, Halkett,' said I ; ' but 
wasn't that cruel ! — the Black Boatswain is there.' 

' Never fear the Black Boatswain, my lad, he 's dead 
years ago ; and it strikes me you '11 steer a course in life 
where old wives' tales never laid down the soundings.' 

' I can always be brave when I want it, Halkett,' said I, 
letting out a bit of my peculiar philosophy ; but I saw he 
didn't understand my speech, and I went on with my 
dressing in silence. 

Halkett meanwhile continued to give me advice about 
the island, and the log-houses, and the signal-ensign ; in 



148 THE CONFESSIONS OP 

fact, about all that could possibly concern my safety and 
speedy escape, concluding with a warning to me, never to 
divulge that anything but a mere accident had been the 
occasion of my being cast away. ' This for your own sake 
and for mine, too, Con,' said he, \ for one day or other he,' 
—he pointed to the after-cabin — ' he 'd know it, and then it 
would fare badly with some of us.' 

' Why not come too, Halkett ? ' said I ; ' this life is as 
hateful to you as to myself.' 

' Hush, boy, no more of that,' said he, with a degree of 
emotion which I had never witnessed in him before. 
' Make yourself warm and snug, for you mustn't take any 
spare clothes, or you 'd be suspected by whoever takes you 
off the island. Here 's my brandy-flask and a tinder-box ; 
that 's a small bag of biscuit — for you '11 take six or seven 
hours to reach the log-house— and here is a pistol with 
some powder and ball. Come along now, or shall I carry 
you up the ladder ? ' 

' No, I 'm able enough now,' said I, making an effort to 
seem free from pain while I stepped up on deck. 

I was not prepared for the affectionate leave-taking 
which met me here : each of the crew shook my hand 
twice or thrice over, and there was not one did not press 
upon me some little gift in token of remembrance. 

At last the boat was lowered, and Halkett and three 
others descended noiselessly, motioning to me to follow. I 
stepped boldly over the side, and, waving a last good-bye 
to those above, sat down in the stern to steer, as I was 
directed. 

It was a calm night, with nothing of a sea, save that 
rolling heave ever present in the Gulf-stream ; and now 
the men stretched to their oars, and we darted swiftly on, 
not a word breaking the deep stillness. 

Although the island lay within six miles, we could see 
nothing of it against the sky, for the highest point is little 
more than twelve feet above the water-level. 

I have said that nothing was spoken as we rowed along 



CON CREGAN 149 

over the dark and swelling water ; but this silence did not 
impress me till I saw ahead of us the long low outline of 
the dreary island shutting out the horizon ; then, a sen- 
sation of sickening despair came over me. Was I to 
linger out a few short hours of life on that melancholy 
spot, and die at last exhausted and broken-hearted ? • Was 
this to be the end of the brilliant dream I had so often 
revelled in ? ' ' Ah, Con ! ' said I, ' to play the game of life, 
a man must have capital to stand its losses — its runs of 
evil fortune ; but you are ruined with one bad deal ! ' 

' Run her in here ! in this creek ! ' cried Halkett to the 
men, and the boat glided into a little bay of still water 
under the lee of the land, and then, after about twenty 
minutes' stout rowing, her keel grated on the rugged 
shingly shore of Anticosti. 

' We cannot land you dry-shod, Con,' said Halkett, ' it 
shoals for some distance here.' 

' No matter,' said I, trying to affect an easy, jocular air, 
my choking throat and swelling heart made far from 
easy ; ' for me to think of wet feet, would be like the felon 
at the drop blowing the froth off the porter because it was 
unwholesome ! ' 

' I 've better hopes of you than that comes to, lad ! ' said 
he ; ' but good-bye ! good-bye ! ' He shook my hand with 
a grasp like a vice, and sat down with his back towards 
me ; the others took a kind farewell of me ; and then, 
shouldering my little bag of biscuit, I pressed my cap 
down over my eyes, and stepped into the surf. It was 
scarcely more than over mid-leg, but the claylike, spongy 
bottom made it tiresome walking. I had only gone a few 
hundred yards, when a loud cheer struck me ; I turned, it 
was the boat's crew, giving me a parting salute. I tried 
to answer it, but my voice failed me ; the next moment 
they had turned the point, and I saw them no more ! 

I now plodded wearily on, and in about half an hour 
reached the land; and whether from weariness, or some 
strange instinct of security, on touching shore, I know not, 



150 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

but I threw myself heavily down upon the shingly stones, 
and slept soundly ; ay, and dreamed too ! dreamed of fair 
lands far away, such as I have often read of in books of 
travels, where bright flowers and delicious fruits were 
growing, and where birds and insects of gaudiest colours 
floated past with a sweet murmuring song that made the 
air tremble. 

Who has not read Robinson Crusoe ? and who has not 
imagined himself combating with some of the difficulties 
of his fortune, and pictured to his mind what his conduct 
might have been under this or that emergency ? 

No speculations are pleasanter, when indulged at our 
own fireside, in an easy-chair, after having solaced our 
'material' nature by a good dinner, and satisfied the 
' moral ' man by the ' City Article,' which assures us that 
the Three per Cents are rising, and that Consols for the 
Account are in a very prosperous state. Then, indeed, if 
our thoughts by any accident stray to the shipwrecked 
sailor, they are blended with a wholesome philanthropy, 
born of good digestion and fair worldly prospects; we 
assure ourselves that we should have made precisely the 
same exertions that he did, and comported ourselves in all 
the varied walks of carpenter, tailor, hosier, sail-maker, 
and boat-builder, exactly like him. The chances are, too, 
that if accidentally out of temper with our neighbours, we 
cordially acknowledge that the retirement was not the 
worst feature in his history ; and if provoked by John 
Thomas, the footman, we are ready to swear that there 
was more gratitude in Friday's little black finger than in 
the whole body corporate of flunkeys, from Richmond to 
Blackwall. 

While these very laudable sentiments are easy enough in 
the circumstances I have mentioned, they are marvellously 
difficult to practise at the touch of stern reality. At least 
I found them so, as I set out to seek the ' Refuge ' on 
Anticosti. It was just daybreak as, somewhat stiffened 
with a sleep on the cold beach, and sore from my recent 



CON CREGAN 151 

bruises, I began my march. ' Nor'-west and by west ' was 
Halkett's vague direction to me, but as I had no compass 
I was left to the guidance of the rising sun for the cardinal 
points. Not a path, nor track of any kind was to be seen ; 
indeed the surface could scarcely have borne traces of 
footsteps, for it was one uniform mass of slaty shingle, 
with here and there the backbone of a fish, and scattered 
fragments of seaweed, washed up by the storms on this 
low bleak shore. I cannot fancy desolation more perfect 
than this dreary spot, slightly undulating, but never 
sufficient to lose sight of the sea ; not a particle of shelter 
to be found ; not a rock, not even a stone large enough to 
sit upon when weary. Of vegetation, no trace could be 
met with — even a patch of moss, or a lichen, would have 
been a blessing to see ; but there were neither. At last, as 
I journeyed on, I wandered beyond the sound of the sea, 
as it broke upon the low strand, and then the silence 
became actually appalling ; but a few moments back, and 
the loud booming of the breakers stunned the ear, and 
now, as I stopped to listen, I could hear my own heart, as 
in full, thick beat it smote against my ribs. I could not 
dismiss the impression that such a stillness — thus terrible, 
would prevail on the Day of Judgment; when, after the 
graves had given up their millions of dead, and the 
agonising cry for mercy had died away, then, as in a 
moment of dread suspense, the air would be motionless, 
not a leaf to stir, not a wing to cleave it. Such possession 
of me did this notion take, that I fell upon my knees and 
sobbed aloud, while, with trembling and uplifted hands, I 
prayed that I too might be pardoned. 

So powerful is the influence of a devotional feeling, no 
matter how associated with error, how alloyed by the 
dross of superstition, that I, who but an instant back 
could scarcely drag my wearied limbs along for very 
despair, became of a sudden trustful and courageous. 
Life seemed no longer the worthless thing it did a few 
minutes before ; on the contrary, I was ready to dare 



152 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

anything to preserve it; and so, with renewed vigour, I 
again set forward. 

At each little swell of the ground I gazed eagerly about 
me, hoping to see the log-hut, but in vain; nothing but 
the same wearisome monotony met my view. The sun 
was now high, and I could easily see that I was following 
out the direction Halkett gave me, and which I continued 
to repeat over and over to myself as I went along. This, 
and watching my shadow — the only one that touched the 
earth — were my occupations. It may seem absurd, even 
to downright folly, but when from any change in the 
direction of my course the shadow did not fall in front of 
me, where I could mark it, my spirits fell, and my heavy 
heart grew heavier. 

When, however, it did precede me, I was never wearied 
watching how it dived down the little slopes, and rose 
again on the opposite bank, bending with each swell of 
the ground. Even this was companionship — its very 
motion smacked of life. 

At length I came upon a little pool of rain-water, and, 
although far from clear, it reflected the bright blue sky 
and white clouds so temptingly that I sat down beside 
it to make my breakfast. As I sat thus, Hope was again 
with me, and I fancied how — in some long distant time, 
when favoured by fortune, and possessed of every worldly 
gift, with rank, and riches, and honour — I should remember 
the hour when, a poor friendless outcast, I ate my lonely 
meal on Anticosti. I fancied, even, how friends would 
listen almost incredulously to the tale, and with what 
traits of pity, or of praise, they would follow me in my story. 

I felt I was not doomed to die in that dreary land, that 
my own courage would sustain me; and thus armed, I 
again set out. 

Although I walked from daybreak to late evening, it 
was only a short time before darkness closed in that I saw 
a bulky mass straight before me, which I knew must be 
the log-house. I could scarcely drag my legs along a few 



CON CREGAN 153 

moments before, but now I broke into a run, and with 
many a stumble, and more than one fall — for I never 
turned my eyes from the hut — I at last reached a little 
cleared spot of ground, in the midst of which stood the 
' Refuge-house.' 

What a moment of joy was that, as, unable to move 
farther, I sat down upon a little bench in front of the hut ! 
All sense of my loneliness, all memory of my desolation, 
was lost in an instant. There was my home ; how strange 
a word for that sad-looking hut of pine-logs, in a lone 
island, uninhabited ! No matter ; it would be my shelter 
and my refuge till better days came round ; and with that 
stout resolve I entered the great roomy apartment, which, 
in the settling gloom of night, seemed immense. 

Striking a light, I proceeded to take a survey of my 
territory, which I rejoiced to see contained a great metal 
stove, and an abundant supply of bed-clothing, precautions 
required by the frequency of ships being ice-bound in these 
latitudes. There were several casks of biscuits, some flour, 
a large chest of maize, besides three large tanks of water, 
supplied by the rain. A few bags of salt, and some 
scattered objects of clothing, completed the catalogue, 
which, if not very luxurious, contained nearly everything 
of absolute necessity. 

I lighted a good fire in the stove, less because I felt 
cold, for it was still autumn, than for the companionship 
of the bright blaze and the crackling wood. This done, I 
proceeded to make myself a bed on one of the platforms, 
arranged like bed-places round the walls, and of which I 
saw the upper ones seemed to have a preference in the 
opinion of my predecessors, since in these the greater 
part of the bed-clothing was to be found, a choice I could 
easily detect the reason of, in the troops of rats which 
walked to and fro, with a most contemptuous indifference 
to my presence, some of them standing near me while I 
made my bed, and looking, as doubtless they felt, con- 
siderably surprised at the nature of my operations. 



154 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

Promising myself to open a spirited campaign against 
them on the morrow, I trimmed and lighted a large lamp, 
which from its position had defied their attempt on the 
oil it still contained, and then, a biscuit in hand, betook 
myself to bed, watching, with an interest not, I own, 
altogether pleasant, the gambols of these primitive 
natives of Anticosti. 

From my earliest years I had an antipathy to rats — so 
great that it mastered all the instincts of my courage. I 
feared them with a fear I should not have felt in presence 
of a wild beast, and I was confident that, had I been 
attacked vigorously by even a single rat, the natural 
disgust would have rendered me unable to cope with him. 
When very young, I remembered hearing the story of 
an officer, who, desirous of visiting the vaults under St. 
Patrick's Church, in Dublin, descended into them under 
the escort of the sexton. By some chance they separated 
from each other, and the sexton, after in vain seeking and 
calling for his companion for several hours, concluded 
that he had already returned to the upper air; and so 
he returned also, locking and barring the heavy door, 
as was his wont. The following day the officer's friends, 
alarmed at his absence, proceeded to make search for 
him through the city, and at last, learning that he had 
visited the cathedral, went thither, and even examined 
the vaults, when, what was their horror to discover 
a portion of the brass ornament of his shako, and 
a broken sword, in the midst of several hundreds of 
rats, dead and dying — the terrible remains of a combat 
that must have lasted for hours. This story, for the truth 
of which some persons yet living will vouch, I heard when 
a mere child, and perhaps to its influence may I date a 
species of terror that has always been too much for either 
my reason or my courage. 

If I slept, then, it was more owing to my utter weari- 
ness and exhaustion than to that languid frame of mind ; 
and, although too tired to dream, my first waking thought 



CON CREGAN 155 

was how to commence hostilities against the rats. As to 
any personal hand-to-hand action, I need scarcely say 
I declined engaging in such, and my supply of gunpowder 
being scanty, the method I hit upon was to make a species 
of grenade, by inserting a quantity of powder with a 
sufficiency of broken glass into a bottle, leaving an 
aperture through the cork for a fuse ; then, having 
smeared the outside of the bottle plentifully with oil, of 
which I discovered a supply in bladders suspended from 
the ceiling, I returned to my berth, with the other ex- 
tremity of the fuse in my hand, ready to ignite when the 
moment came. 

I had not long to wait ; my enemies, bold from long 
impunity, came fearlessly forward, and surrounded the 
bottle in myriads ; it became a scene like an election row, 
to witness their tumbling and rolling over each other. 
Nor could I bring myself to cut short the festivity, till I 
began to entertain fears for the safety of the bottle, which 
already seemed to be loosened from its bed of clay. Then 
at last I applied a match to my cord, and almost before I 
could cover my head with the blanket, the flask exploded, 
with a crash and a cry that showed me its success. The 
battlefield was truly a terrible sight, for the wounded 
were far more numerous than the dead, and I, shame to 
say, had neither courage nor humanity to finish their 
sufferings, but lay still, while their companions dragged 
them away in various stages of suffering. 

I at first supposed that this was an exploit that could 
succeed but once, and that the well-known sagacity of 
the creatures would have made them avoid so costly 
a temptation. Nothing of the kind ; they were perfect 
Scythians in their love of oil ; and as often as I repeated 
my experiment, they were ready to try their fortunes. 
Or perhaps they had some of the gambler's element in 
their nature, and each felt that he might win where 
others lost. 

I had made Halkett a promise that for a couple of days, 



156 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

at least, I would not hoist the signal-flag, lest any accident 
should induce Sir Dudley to suspect my place of refuge, 
so that I was completely reduced to my campaign against 
the rats for occupation and amusement. So far as I could 
discover, the little island, traverse it how I would, never 
varied — the same rise and swell of surface, clad with loose 
stones, lay on every side ; and so depressing had this 
mournful uniformity become to me, that I rarely ventured 
out of the hut, or, when I did, it was to sit upon the little 
bench outside the door, from which a sea-view extended 
over the wide waters of the Gulf. 

To sit here and try to decipher the names cut into the 
wood was my constant occupation. What histories, too, 
did I weave of those who carved these letters ; and how 
did they fix themselves in my mind, each name suggesting 
an identity, till I felt as if I had known them intimately. 
Some seemed the precious work of weeks ; and it was easy 
to see that after the letters were cut, the sculptor had 
gone on embellishing and ornamenting his work for very 
lack of labour. Others, again, were mere initials, and one 
was a half-finished name, leaving me to the perpetual 
doubt whether he had been rescued from its captivity 
or died ere it was completed. 

Between my hours spent here and the little duties of 
my household, with usually three or four explosions 
against my rats, the day went over — I will not say rapidly, 
but pass it did ; and each night brought me nearer to the 
time when I should hoist my signal and hope — ay, that 
was the great supporter through all — hope for rescue. 

It was now the third night of my being on the island, 
and I sat at my fire trying to invent some new mode for 
the destruction of my enemies, for my last charge of 
powder had been expended. I had nothing remaining 
save the loading in my pistol. It was true that I had 
succeeded to a great extent ; the creatures no longer 
appeared with their former air of assurance, nor in large 
bodies. Their army was evidently disorganised ; they no 



CON CEEGAN 157 

longer took the field in battalions, but in scattered guerilla 
parties, without discipline or courage. Even had my 
ammunition lasted, it is more than doubtful that my 
tactics would have continued to have the same success : 
they had begun to dread the bottle, like a reformed 
drunkard. Often have I seen them approach within a 
few feet of it, and wait patiently till some younger and 
more adventurous spirit would venture nearer, and then, 
at the slightest stir — the least rustling of my bed-clothes 
— away they went in full career. It was evident that the 
secret, like most great mysteries of the same kind, had 
had its day. This was consolatory, too, as I had no longer 
the means of continuing my siege operations ; while the 
caution and reserve of the enemy suggested a system of 
defence of the simplest, but most effectual, kind, which 
was, to place a certain number of bottles at different parts 
of the hut, the very sight of which inspired terror ; and 
if followed by any noise, was certain to secure me, for 
some time at least, from all molestation. 

Shall I tell the reader how this stratagem first occurred 
to me ? It was simply thus : In one of the early but 
unrecorded years of my history, I used to act as driver 
to the Moate and Kilbeggan caravan — not, indeed, as the 
recognised coachee of that very rickety and most pre- 
carious conveyance, but as a kind of ' deputy assistant ' 
to the paid official, who, having a wife at Kilbeggan, 
usually found some excuse for stopping at Clara, and 
sending me forward with the passengers — a proceeding, 
I am bound to own, not over consistent with humanity to 
' man or beast.' Many were the misadventures of that 
luckless conveniency, and the public were loud in their 
denunciations of it ; but as nobody knew the proprietors, 
nor did the most searching scrutiny detect the existence 
of a 'way-bill,' the complaints were uttered to the wind, 
and I was at full liberty ' to do my stage ' in three hours, 
or one-half the time, as I fancied. 

The passengers at length learned this valuable fact, 



158 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

and found that greasing my palm was a sure method of 
oiling the wheels. All complaints gradually subsided; in 
fact, the dumb animals were the only ones who had any 
right to make them. I drove then at a very brisk pace 
— a thriving trade — the caravan became popular, and my 
fame rose, as the horses' condition declined. At last the 
secret was discovered ; and instead of my imposing whip 
of four yards and a half of whip-cord, they reduced me 
to a stunted bit of stick, with a little drooping lash that 
wouldn't reach the tail of my one leader. My receipts 
fell off from that hour; in fact, instead of praises and 
sixpences, I now got nothing but curses and hard names ; 
and at one hill, near 'Horse-leap,' which I used in my 
prosperous days to ' go at ' in a slashing canter, amid a 
shower of encomiums, I was now obliged to stagger slowly 
up, with four-and- twenty small farmers, and maybe a 
priest, in full cry at my sulkiness, laziness, incivility, and 
other good gifts; and all this, ay, and more, for lack of 
a bit of whip-cord. 

I have been told that very great people will stoop to 
low alliances when hard pressed; even cabinet ministers, 
I believe, have now and then acknowledged very dubious 
allies. Let not Con Cregan, then, be reproached if he 
called in the help of a little barefooted boy, who used 
to beg on the hill of Horse-leap, and who, at the sound of 
the approaching caravan, sallied forth with a long branch 
of an ash-tree, and belaboured the team into some faint 
resemblance to a canter. Through this auxiliary I re- 
covered in part my long-lost popularity, and was likely 
to be again reinstated in public favour, when my assistant 
caught the measles, and I was once more reduced to my 
own efforts. 

In this emergency I had nothing for it but a stratagem ; 
and so, as the conveyance arrived at the foot of the hill, 
and the horses, dropping their heads, were gradually 
subsiding into the little shuffling amble that precedes 
a slow walk, I used to scream out at the top of my 



CON CREGAN 159 

voice all my accustomed exhortations to the boy : ' Ah, 
hit him again, Tommy— into him, boy — under the traces, 
my lad ! — give him enough of it ! — welt him well ! Ha ! 
there ! ' exclamations that, from old associations, always 
stimulated the wretched beasts into a canter ; and under 
the impression of this salutary terror, we used to reach the 
top almost as speedily as in the old days of the penal code. 

The same device now aided me against the rats of 
Anticosti; and if any one will say to what end this 
narrative of an encounter so insignificant, my answer is, 
that, whether in the St. Lawrence or in St. Stephen's, rats 
are far more formidable than their size or strength would 
seem to imply; and whether they nibble your rags or 
your reputation, their success is invariably the same. 

Four days had now elapsed, and I concluded that the 
yacht must ere this have been miles on her voyage up the 
river. The next morning, then, I should venture to hoist 
the signal, and thus apprise the passing ships that one 
deserted and forlorn creature, at least, still lingered on 
the miserable island. 

I sat at my fire till a late hour. I was lower in spirits 
than usual. I had watched the Gulf from sunrise to 
sunset, and without seeing one sail upon its surface. A 
light breeze was blowing from the northward, and on this 
I supposed many of the outward vessels would be borne 
along, but not one appeared. From time to time a fleeting 
cloud, resting for a moment on the horizon, would assume 
the semblance of a ship, but at length I grew accustomed 
to these deceptions, and suffered little or no disappoint- 
ment when a second glance at the spot failed to detect 
them. 

Once or twice the thought crossed my mind that I 
might never leave the island, that winter might close in 
and the Gulf be frozen before I could make my escape ; 
and I actually shuddered at the very notion of a fate so 
terrible. I cowered nearer to the fire as the flame subsided, 
and was sitting with my hands outstretched over the 



160 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

blaze, when the sudden crash of one of the bottles behind 
startled me. Were the rats already regaining courage in 
anticipation of the time when I could no longer resist 
them? With this idea I turned my head round. The 
flame threw a long ray of light upon the floor as I moved, 
and in the midst of this I beheld, at a distance of about 
three yards off, a large black head, with two immense and 
bloodshot eyes, glaring fixedly at me. It seemed to rise 
out of the earth, above which it rose scarcely more than a 
foot in height. 

Paralysed by terror, I could not stir, I could scarcely 
breathe, as with a slow and nodding motion the large 
black face came nearer ; and now I could see that it was a 
man — a negro — who on hands and knees was slowly 
creeping towards me. Overwhelmed by fear as I was, I 
noted the features, as marked by age and worn by want ; 
they resembled those of a wild beast rather than of 
a human creature. More from the force of a mere 
mechanical impulse, than with any notion of defence, for 
which my terror totally incapacitated me, I had drawn my 
pistol from my bosom, and held it pointed towards him. 
' No fire ! — no fire ! ' cried the creature, in a low faint voice, 
and at the same time, while resting on one hand, he held 
up with the other a long bright knife in an attitude of 
menace. 

' No nearer, then ! ' screamed I, as I fell back beside the 
stove, and still kept my eyes fixed upon him, whom now I 
knew to be the Black Boatswain ; and thus we remained, 
each watching the other, while the fire flickered and threw 
its fitful glare over the gloomy space around us. As we 
were thus, I saw, or I thought I saw, the negro stealthily 
drawing up his legs, as if for a spring, and in my terror I 
believe I should have pulled the trigger, when suddenly 
the knife dropped from his hand, and pointing with his 
finger to his dry, cracked lips, he said, ' A-boire ' — water. 

The look of earnest, almost passionate entreaty of the 
poor creature's face — the expression of want and misery, 




Con's Visitor at the Hxl1 



CON CREGAN 161 

struggling with a faint hope, as he uttered these words, 
routed all fears for myself, and filling a cup from the 
tank with water, I emptied the last remaining drops *of 
my brandy-flask into it, and held it to his mouth. 

He swallowed it greedily ; and then clasping my wrist 
with his gaunt and bony fingers, held me fast for a few 
seconds, while he recovered his breath; at last, with an 
effort that seemed almost convulsive, he said some words 
in Spanish, which I could not understand. I shook my 
head to show him my ignorance of the language, and then 
fixing his eye full upon me, he said, ' Alone, here ? boy 
alone ? ' 

Understanding that this referred to myself, I answered 
at once, that I was alone, and had been deserted by my 
companions. 

' Bad men, white men ! ' cried he, twisting his mouth 
savagely ; while again he pointed to his lips, and muttered 
' Water ! ' I endeavoured to free myself from his grasp to 
fill the cup once more ; but he held me firmly, and showed 
by a sign that he wished me to assist him to reach the 
tank. I accordingly stooped down to help him, and now 
perceived that he could do little more than drag his legs 
forward and support himself on the knees, being either 
wholly or in part paralysed from his hips downwards. 
' Ah, f oco ! ' cried he, twice or thrice, and then changed to 
the word ' Feu ! ' ' Le feu ! ' on which his gaze was fixed 
with a horrid earnestness. 

It was not without labour and much exertion that I 
succeeded in dragging him near the embers of the fire ; 
but having done so, I quickly replenished the dying flame, 
and fanning it with my hat, soon succeeded in making a 
cheerful blaze once more. ' Buono ! goot ! goot ! ' said he, 
several times, as he held his shrivelled and wasted fingers 
almost into the fire. 

'Are you hungry?' said I, bending down to make 
myself heard. 

He nodded twice. 

13 L 



162 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

' Can you eat biscuit ? I have nothing else,' said I ; for I 
half feared that the hard dry food would be impracticable 
for his almost toothless jaws. He said something about 
' Guisado,' once or twice ; and at last made a sign, that I 
understood to mean that the biscuit might be softened 
in water for him. And with that I placed a pot of water 
on the fire, and soon saw by the expression of his eye 
that I had divined his meaning. 

As I continued to blow the fire, and occasionally 
examined the water to see if it boiled, I could mark that 
the negro's eyes never once quitted me, but, with a restless 
activity, followed me wherever I went, or whatever I did ; 
and, although from his age, and the dreadful infirmity he 
laboured under, I felt I should prove his equal in any 
struggle, I own that I cast many a sidelong look towards 
him, lest he should take me by surprise. That he was the 
notorious Black Boatswain of whom I had heard so much, 
I had no doubt whatever; and I felt not a little vain of 
my own courage and presence of mind, as I saw myself so 
possessed and collected in such company. 

' Give ! give ! ' cried he impatiently, as I examined 
the mess of steeping biscuit, and for which he seemed 
ravenously eager; and at length I removed it from the 
fire, and placed it before him. Such voracity as his I 
never witnessed, save in the case of Sir Dudley's lions ; he 
crammed the food with both hands into his mouth, and 
devoured it with all the savage earnestness of a wild 
beast. Twice was I obliged to replenish the mess ; and 
each time did it vanish with the same despatch. 

He now lay back on one arm, and, half closing his eyes, 
appeared as if he was going asleep ; but at the least stir or 
movement on my part, I saw that his wild red-streaked 
eyes followed me at once. 

Halkett had given me a little bag of tobacco at part- 
ing, saying, that although I was no smoker, I should soon 
learn to become one in my solitude. This I now produced, 
and offered him a handful. 



CON CREGAN 163 

The dark features were immediately lighted up with an 
almost frantic expression of pleasure, as he clutched the 
precious weed; and tearing off a fragment of the paper, 
he rolled it into the shape of a cigarette. 

'No smoke?' asked he, as I sat watching his pre- 
parations. 

I shook my head. ' Ah ! ' cried he, laying down the 
tobacco before him. ' Tehoka, here ! ' said he, pointing 
to it. 

' I don't understand,' said I ; ' what is Tehoka ? ' 

' Bad ! bad ! ' said he, shaking both hands ; ' weed make 

negro so — so ,' and he opened his mouth wide, and 

dropped his arms heavily backwards, to represent sickness, 
or perhaps death. 

' No, no,' said I ; ' this is good, a friend gave it to me.' 

' Smoke,' said he, pushing it over towards me ; and I 
saw now that my abstaining had excited his suspicions. 

' If you like I will smoke,' said I, setting to work to 
manufacture a cigar like his own. 

He sat eyeing me all the while ; and when I proceeded 
to fill it with tobacco he leaned over to see that I did not 
attempt any sleight of hand to deceive him. 

'Will that do?' said I, showing him the little paper 
tube. 

' Smoke,' said he gravely. 

It was only after watching me for several minutes 
that he took courage to venture himself; and even then 
he scrutinised the tobacco as keenly as though it demanded 
all his acuteness to prevent stratagem. At length he did 
begin ; and certainly never did anything seem to effect a 
more powerful and more immediate influence. The fiery 
restless eyes grew heavy and dull; the wide-distended 
nostrils ceased to dilate with their former convulsive 
motion. His cheek, seamed with privation and passion, 
lay flaccid and at rest, and a look of lethargic ease stole 
over all the features one by one, till at last the head fell 
forward on his chest ; his arm slipped softly from beneath 



164 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

him, and he rolled heavily back — sunk in the deepest 
sleep. 

I soon abandoned my tobacco now, which had already 
begun to produce a feeling of giddiness and confusion, very 
unfavourable to cool determination— sensations which did 
not subside so readily as I could have wished ; for as I sat 
gazing on my swarthy companion, fancies the wildest 
and most absurd associated themselves with the strange 
reality. The terrible tales I once listened to about the 
' Black Boatswain ' came to mingle with the present. The 
only remnant of right reason left prompted me to keep 
up my fire : a certain terror of being alone, and in the 
dark, with the negro, predominating over every other 
thought. 

By the bright blaze, which soon arose, I could now mark 
the enormous figure, which, in all the abandonment of 
heavy slumber, lay outstretched before me. Although it 
was evident he was very old, the gigantic limbs showed 
what immense strength he must have possessed ; while in 
the several white cicatrices that marked his flesh I could 
reckon a great number of wounds, some of them of fearful 
extent. The only covering he wore was a piece of sail- 
cloth wrapped round his body ; over this he had a blanket, 
through a round hole in which his head issued, like as in a 
Mexican poncho, leaving his sinewy limbs perfectly naked. 
A bit of ragged, worn bunting — part, as it seemed, of an 
old union-jack — was bound round his head, and, in its 
showy colours, served to enhance the stern expression of 
his harsh features. 

As my senses became clearer I began to imagine how 
it happened that he came to the hut, since, in all the 
narratives I had heard of him, the greatest doubt existed 
that he was still living, so effectually did he manage his 
concealment. At last, and by dint of much thought, I hit 
upon what I suspected to be the real solution of the 
difficulty, which was, that he was accustomed to venture 
hither whenever the signal-flag was not hoisted ; and, as I 



CON CREGAN 165 

had not done so, that he was under the belief that he was 
the only living man on the island. 

That he must have contrived his hiding-place with great 
success was clear enough ; for, whether the allegations 
against him were true or false, they were so universally 
believed by sailors, that if he had been discovered they 
would unquestionably have carried him off to Quebec. It 
was now in my power ' to do the state this service ' ; and 
I began to canvass with myself all the reasons for and 
against it. If, on the one hand, it reminded me of the 
old legends I used to read about striplings that led captive 
huge giants or fierce dragons, on the other I felt it would 
be a species of treachery to one who had eaten bread from 
my hands. Besides, to what end — even supposing him 
guilty to any extent — to what end bring him now to 
justice, when a few days, or hours, perhaps, would close 
a life whose suffering was manifest enough ! And lastly, 
was I so certain of escape myself that I already plotted 
carrying away a prisoner with me ? The last reflection 
saved me the trouble of thinking much more on the 
others ; and so I fell a-pondering over myself and my 
destitution. 

Not long was I permitted to indulge in such reveries ; 
for the negro now began to dream, and talk aloud with a 
rapidity of utterance and vehemence very different from 
the monosyllabic efforts he had favoured me with. As 
the language was Spanish I could catch nothing of his 
meaning ; but I could see that some fearful reminiscence 
was agitating his mind by the working of his fingers, and 
the violent contortions of his face. 

In the struggle of his paroxysm — for it was really little 
less — he tore open the coarse rag of canvas that he wore, 
and I could perceive something fastened round his neck by 
a piece of spun-yarn. At first I thought it one of those 
charms that seamen are so fond of carrying about them — 
amulets, against Heaven knows what kind of dangers : 
but, on stooping down, I perceived it was an old leather 



166 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

pocket-book, which once had been red, but by time and 
dirt was almost black. 

More than once he clutched this in his hand, with a 
wild energy as if it was his heart's treasure, and then the 
great drops of sweat would start out upon his forehead, 
and his parted lips would quiver with agony. In one of 
these struggles he tore the book from the cord, and 
opening it, seemed to seek for something among its 
contents. The rapidity of the movement, and the seem- 
ing collectedness of every gesture, made me believe that he 
was awake; but I soon saw that his great and staring 
eyeballs were not turned to the spot, but were fixed on 
vacancy. 

His motions were now more and more hurried : at one 
time his fingers would turn over the papers in the pocket- 
book, at another he would grope with his hand along the 
ground, and pat the earth down with his palm, as if, having 
buried something in the earth, he would conceal every 
trace of it from discovery; and at these moments the 
Spanish word 'oro' — gold — would escape him in a half- 
sigh, and this, and the word ' Guajuaqualla,' were the only 
ones I could catch ; but my mind retained both for many 
a day after. 

At last he crushed the papers hurriedly together and 
closed the pocket-book: but in doing so a single slip of 
paper fell to the ground. I leaned over and caught it, 
and by the light of the fire I read the following lines, 
which were in print, and apparently cut from the column 
of a newspaper : — 

One Thousand Dollars Reward. 

Any one will be entitled to the above reward who may 
detect, or give such information as may lead to the detection, 
of Menelaus Crick, a negro slave, aged forty-eight ; he stands 
six feet two high; broad chest and shoulders, the right higher 
than the left ; has marks of the lash on back, and two cutlass 
scars on the face ; the great toe of the left foot is wanting, 



CON CREGAN 167 

and he walks occasionally ivith difficulty, from a gunshot 
wound in the spine. 

As he is a felloiv of resolute character and great strength, 
all persons are hereby warned not to attempt his capture, save 
in sufficient numbers. He tvas last seen at San Luis, and 
is supposed to have gone in the direction of Guajuaqualla, 
where it is said he ivorked once as a gold-washer. 

Address — The Office of the ' Picayune ' — Letter — T. G 

B , New Orleans. 

There were a few words in Spanish scrawled on the back. 

' Here is the man ! ' said I, looking down on the sleeping 
figure ; ' who would have thought a thousand dollars could 
be made of him ? ' Not, indeed, that I speculated on such an 
unholy gain. — No, the very offer enlisted my sympathies in 
favour of the poor wretch ; besides, how many years ago 
must that advertisement have appeared ; he was forty- 
eight at that time, and now his age might be nigh eighty. 
My curiosity became intense to see the contents of the 
pocket-book, from which I could fancy abundant materials 
to eke out the negro's history. I am afraid that nothing 
but the terror of discovery prevented my stealing it. I 
even planned how it might be done without awaking him ; 
but the long bright knife which glistened in the strap of 
his blanket admonished me to prudence, and I abstained. 

My fire waxed fainter as the dawn drew nigh, and as I 
was afraid of sleep coming over me, I stepped noiselessly 
from the hut and gained the open air. My first occupa- 
tion was to hoist the signal ; and as it rose into the air I 
watched its massive folds unfurling with a throb of hope 
that gave me new courage. The standard was very lofty, 
and stood upon a mound of earth ; and as the flag itself 
was large I had every reason to think it could not escape 
notice. Scarcely, indeed, had I made fast the halyard, 
than I beheld on the very verge of the horizon what 
seemed to be a vessel. The moment of sunrise, like that 
of sunset, is peculiarly favourable to distinct vision, and 
as the pink line of dawn sheeted over the sea, the dark 



168 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

object stood out clear and sharp ; but the next moment the 
glare of brighter day covered sky and water together, and 
I could no longer see the ship. 

In my anxiety to try and catch sight of it from another 
spot, I hastened down to the shore ; but already a rosy tint 
was spread over the wide sea, and nothing was discernible 
except the heaving waves, and the streaked sky above 
them. 

I sat upon a rock straining my eyes, but to no purpose ; 
and at last the cold raw air pierced through me, and I 
remembered that I had left my jacket in the hut. But for 
this, indeed, I would not have returned to it ; for, without 
absolute fear of the negro, his repulsive features, and 
scowling look, made his companionship far from pleasur- 
able. His suspicion of me, too, might have led him to 
some act of violence ; and therefore I determined, if I were 
even to seek shelter in the Refuge-house at the other end 
of the island, I would not go back to this one. 

It was some time before I could summon courage to 
venture back again; and even when I had reached the 
door it was not without a struggle with myself that I 
dared to enter. The daylight was now streaming in across 
the long and dreary chamber, and encouraged by this I 
stepped across the threshold. My first glance was towards 
the stove, where I had left him lying asleep. The fire had 
burned out, and the negro was gone ! With cautious steps, 
and many a prying glance around, I ventured forward, my 
heart thumping with a fear I cannot explain, since his 
very presence had not caused such terror; but nowhere 
was he to be found — not a trace of him remained. Indeed, 
were it not for the scrap of printed paper, which I had 
carefully preserved, I should have believed the whole 
events of the night to be the mere fancies of a dream. 

Twice was I obliged to take it from my pocket and read 
it over to assure myself that I was not pursuing some 
hallucination of sleep ; and if I felt convinced that the 
events were real, and had actually happened, I will frankly 



CON CREGAN 169 

own that the reality inspired me with a sense of fear which 
no memory of a mere vision could have inspired. 

Daylight is a bold companion, however, and where night 
would make the heart beat fast, and the cheek pale, the 
sun will give a strong pulse and a ruddy face. This I could 
not help feeling, as I acknowledged to myself that had it 
been yet dark, I had rather have perished with cold than 
sought for my jacket within the hut. 

At last, grown bolder, I had even courage to seek for 
the negro on every side. I examined the berths along the 
walls ; I searched the recesses beside the biscuit-casks ; I 
removed planks and turned over sails, but without success. 
The difficulty with which he moved made this seem doubly 
strange, and satisfied me that his place of concealment 
could not be far off ; nay, possibly, at that very moment 
he might be actually watching me, and waiting for a 
favourable instant to pounce upon me. This dread in- 
creased as my search continued to be fruitless ; so that I 
abandoned the pursuit, assured that I had done every- 
thing that could have been asked either of my courage or 
humanity, nor was I sorry to assure myself that I had 
done enough. 

My interest in the subject was soon superseded by one 
nearer to my heart ; for as I left the hut I beheld, about 
four miles off, a large three-masted vessel bearing up the 
Gulf, with all her canvas spread. Forgetting the distance, 
and everything save my longing to be free, I ascended a 
little eminence, and shouted with all my might, waving my 
handkerchief back and forward above my head. I cannot 
describe the transport of delight I felt at perceiving that 
a flag was hoisted to the main peak, and soon after lowered 
— a recognition of the signal which floated above me. I 
even cried aloud with joy, and then, in the eagerness of 
my ecstasy, I set off along the shore, seeking out the best 
place for a boat to run in. 

Never did a ship appear so glorious an object to my 
eyes : her spars seemed more taper, her sails more snowy, 



170 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

her bearing prouder than ever a vessel owned before ; and 
when at length I could distinguish the figures of men in 
the rigging, my heart actually leaped to my mouth with 
delight. 

At last she backed her topsail, and now I saw shooting 
out from beneath her tall sides a light pinnace that 
skimmed the water like a sea-bird. As if they saw me, 
they headed exactly towards where I stood, and ran the 
craft into a little bay just at my feet. A crew of four 
sailors and coxswain now jumped ashore and advanced 
towards me. 

' Are there many of you ? ' said the coxswain gruffly, 
and as though nothing were a commoner occurrence in 
life than to rescue a poor forlorn fellow-creature from an 
uninhabited rock. 

' I am alone, sir,' said I, almost bursting into tears for 
mingled joy and disappointment ; for I was, I own it, dis- 
appointed at the want of sympathy for my lone condition. 

'What ship did you belong to, boy?' asked he, as 
shortly as before. 

' A yacht, sir — the Firefly.' 

' Ah, that 's it ; so they shoved you ashore here. That 's 
what comes of sailing with gentlemen, as they calls 'em.' 

' No, sir ; we landed — a few of us — during a calm ' 

' Ay, ay,' he broke in, ' I know all that — the old story : 
you landed to shoot rabbits, and somehow you got 
separated from the others ; the wind sprang up mean- 
time — the yacht fired a gun to come off — eh, isn't that it ? 
Come, my lad, no gammon with me. You 're some infernal 
young scamp that was " had up " for punishment, and they 
either put you ashore here for the rats, or you jumped 
overboard yourself, and floated hither on a spare hen- 
coop. But never mind — we'll give you a run to Quebec; 
jump in.' 

I followed the order with alacrity, and soon found 
myself on board the Hampden transport, which was 
conveying the — th Regiment of Foot to Canada. 



CON CREGAN 171 

' No one but this here boy, sir,' said the coxswain, 
shoving me before him towards the skipper, who, amidst 
a crowd of officers in undress, sat smoking on the after- 
deck. 

A very significant grunt seemed to imply that the 
vessel's way was lost for very slight cause. 

' He says as how he belonged to a yacht, sir,' resumed 
the coxswain. 

' Whose yacht, boy ? ' asked one of the officers. 

' Sir Dudley Broughton's, sir ; the Firefly? said I. 

' Broughton ! Broughton ! ' said an old shrewd-looking 
man in a f oraging-cap ; ' don't you know all about him ? 
but, to be sure, he was before you?' day ' ; and then chang- 
ing his discourse to French, with which language, thanks 
to my kind old friend Father Rush, I was sufficiently 
acquainted to understand what was said, he added, ' Sir 
Dudley was in the Life Guards once ; his wife eloped with 
a Russian or a Polish count — I forget which — and he 
became deranged in consequence. . . . Were you long 
with Sir Dudley, boy?' asked he, addressing me in 
English. 

' Not quite two months, sir.' 

' Not a bad spell with such a master ! ' resumed he, in 
French ; ' if the stories they tell of him be true. How did 
you happen to be left on Anticosti ? ' 

' No use in asking, captain ! ' broke in the skipper. 
' You never get a word of truth from chaps like that ; go 
for'ard, boy.' 

And "with this brief direction I was dismissed. All my 
fancied heroism — all my anticipated glory — vanishing at 
once ; the only thought my privations excited being that 
I was a young scamp, who, if he told the truth, would 
confess that all his sufferings and misfortunes had been 
but too well merited. 

This was another lesson to me in life, and one which 
perhaps I could not have acquired more thoroughly than 
by a few days on Anticosti. 




A GLIMPSE OF ANOTHER 
OPENING IN LIFE 

LTHOUGH only a few hundred 
miles from Quebec, our voyage 
still continued for several days ; 
the Hampden, like all trans- 
port-ships, was only ' great in a calm,' and the Gulf -stream 
being powerful enough to retard far better sailers. 

To those who, like myself, were not pressed for time, 
or had no very pleasing vista opening to them on shore, 
the voyage was far from disagreeable. As the channel 
narrowed, the tall mountains of Vermont came into view, 



THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 173 

and gradually the villages on the shore could be detected 
— small dark clusters in the midst of what appeared 
interminable pine-forests. Here and there less pleasant 
sights presented themselves in the shape of dismasted 
hulks, being the remains of vessels which had got fastened 
in the ice of the early ' fall,' and were deserted by the crews. 

On the whole it was novelty, and novelty alone, lent 
any charm to the picture; for the shores of the Gulf, 
until you come within two days' journey of Quebec, are 
sadly discouraging and dreary. The log-house is itself a 
mournful object; and when seen standing alone in some 
small clearing, with blackened stumps studding the space, 
through which two or three figures are seen to move, is 
inexpressibly sad-looking and solitary. 

Now and then we would pass some little town, with a 
humble imitation of a harbour for shipping, and a quay ; 
and in the midst a standard, with a flag, would denote 
that some Government official resided there — the reward, 
doubtless, of some gallant deed, some bold achievement 
afloat; for I heard that they were chiefly lieutenants in 
the navy, who, having more intimacy with French grape 
and canister than with ' First Lords,' were fain to spend 
the remnant of their days in these gloomiest of exiles. 

The absence of all signs of life and movement in the 
picture cannot fail to depress the spectator. No team of 
oxen draws the loaded waggon along ; not a plough is seen. 
There are no gatherings of people in the open places of 
the towns; no cattle can be descried on the hills. The 
settlements appear like the chance resting-places of men 
travelling through the dark forests, and not their homes 
for life. At times a single figure would be seen on some 
high cliff above the sea standing motionless, and, to all 
seeming, watching the ship. I cannot say how deeply such 
a sight always affected me ; and I could not help fancying 
him some lone emigrant following with beating heart the 
track he was never again to travel. 

Apparently these things made a deeper impression on 



174 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

me than upon most others on board. As for the soldiers, 
they were occupied with getting their arms and equip- 
ments in order, to make a respectable appearance on 
landing. It was one eternal scene of soap and pipeclay all 
day long; and creatures barely able to crawl, from sea- 
sickness and debility, were obliged to scour and polish 
away as if the glory of England depended upon the show 
the gallant — th would make the day we should set foot 
on shore. The skipper, too, was bent on making an equally 
imposing show to the landsmen; his weather topmasts 
were stowed away, and in their place were hoisted some 
light and taper spars, not exactly in accordance with the 
lubberly hull beneath. Pitch and white paint were in 
great requisition too ; and every day saw some half-dozen 
of the crew suspended over the side, either scraping or 
painting for the very life. Many a shirt dangled from the 
boom, and more than one low-crowned hat received a 
fresh coat of glistening varnish : all were intent on the 
approaching landing, even to the group of lounging officers 
on the poop, who had begun to reduce their beards and 
whiskers to a more ' regulation ' standard, and who usually 
passed the morning inspecting epaulettes and sword-knots, 
shakos, gorgets, and such like, with the importance of men 
who felt what havoc among the fair Canadians they were 
soon about to inflict. 

My services were in request among this section of the 
passengers since I had become an expert hand at cleaning 
arms and equipments with Sir Dudley; besides that, not 
wearing his Majesty's cloth, the officers were at liberty to 
talk to me with a freedom they could not have used 
with their men. They were all more or less curious to 
hear about Sir Dudley, of whom, without transgressing 
Halkett's caution, I was able to relate some amusing par- 
ticulars. As my hearers invariably made their comments 
on my narratives in French, I was often amused to hear 
them record their opinions of myself, expressed with 
perfect candour in my own presence. The senior officer 



CON CREGAN 175 

was a Captain Pike, an old, keen-eyed, pock-marked man, 
with a nose as thin as a sheet of parchment. He seemed 
to read me like a book; at least, so far as I knew, his 
opinions perfectly divined my true character. 

' Our friend Con,' he would say, ' is an uncommonly 
shrewd varlet, but he is only telling us some of the truth ; 
he sees that he is entertaining enough, and won't produce 
" Lafitte" so long as we enjoy his " Ordinaire.'" 

' Now what will become of such a fellow as that ? ' 
asked another ; ' Heaven knows ! such rascals turn out 
consummate scoundrels, or rise to positions of eminence. 
Never was there a more complete lottery than the life of a 
young rogue like that.' 

' I can't fancy,' drawled out a young subaltern, ' how an 
ignorant cur, without education, manners, and means, can 
ever rise to anything.' 

' Who can say whether he has not all these ? ' said the 
captain quietly. ' Trust me, Carrington, you 'd cut a much 
poorer figure in his place than would he in yours? 

The ensign gave a haughty laugh, and the captain 
resumed : ' I said, it were not impossible that he had each 
of the three requisites you spoke of, and I repeat it. He 
may, without possessing learning, have picked up that 
kind of rudimentary knowledge, that keenness and zeal 
improve on every day ; and as for tact and address, such 
fellows possess both as a birthright. I have a plan in my 
head for the youngster; but you must all pledge yourselves 
to secrecy, or I '11 not venture upon it.' 

Here a very general chorus of promises and ' on honours' 
broke forth : after the subsidence of which Captain Pike 
continued, still, however, in French ; and although being 
far from a proficient in that tongue, I was able to follow 
the tenor of his discourse, and divine its meaning, par- 
ticularly as, from time to time, some of the listeners would 
propound a question or two in English, by the aid of which 
I invariably contrived to keep up with the ' argument.' 

' You know, lads,' said the captain, ' that our old friend, 



176 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

Mrs. Davis, who keeps the boarding-house in the Upper 
Town, has been always worrying us to bring her out what 
she calls a first-rate man-servant from England ; by which 
she means a creature capable of subsisting on quarter 
rations, and who, too far from home to turn restive, 
must put up with any wages. The very fact that 
he came out special, she well knows, will be a puff for 
the " Establishment " among the Canadian Members of 
Parliament, and the small fry of officials who dine at the 
house ; and as to qualifications, who will dare question the 
" London footman " ? ' 

£ Pooh, pooh ! ' broke in Carrington ; ' that fellow don't 
look like a London footman.' 

' Who says he does ? ' retorted the captain ; ' who ever 
said brass buttons and blue beads were gold and turquoise? 
but they pass for the same in villages not fifty miles from 
where we are sailing. Mother Davis was wife of a skipper 
in the timber trade who died harbour-master here ; she is 
not a very likely person to be critical about a butler or 
footman's accomplishments.' 

' By Jove ! ' cried another, ' Pike is all right ! go on with 
your plan.' 

' My plan is this : we '11 dress up our friend Con, here — 
give him a few lessons about waiting at table, delivering 
a message, and so forth— furnish him with a jolly set of 
characters — and start him on the road of life with Mother 
Davis.' 

A merry roar of approving laughter broke forth from 
the party at this brief summary of Captain Pike's inten- 
tions; and, indeed, it was not without great difficulty I 
avoided joining in it. 

' He looks so devilish young ! ' said Carrington ; ' he 
can't be fifteen.' 

' Possibly not fourteen,' said Pike ; ' but we '11 shave his 
head, and give him a wig. I '11 answer for the " make up " ; 
and as I have had some experience of private theatricals, 
rely on 't he '11 pass muster,' 



CON CREGAN 177 

' How will you dress him, Pike ? ' 

' In livery — a full suit of snuff -brown, lined with yellow ; 
I '11 devote a large cloak I have to the purpose, and we '11 
set the tailor at work to-day.' 

' Is he to have shorts ? ' 

' Of course ; some of you must " stand " silk stockings 
for him, for we shall have to turn him out with a good kit.' 

A very generous burst of promises here broke in about 
shirts, vests, cravats, gloves, and other wearables, which, I 
own it, gave the whole contrivance a far brighter colouring 
in my eyes than when it offered to be a mere lark. 

' Will the rogue consent, think you ? ' asked Carrington. 

' Will he prefer a bed, and a dinner, to nothing to eat, 
and a siesta under the planks on the quays of Quebec?' 
asked Pike contemptuously. ' Look at the fellow ! watch 
his keen eyes and his humorous mouth when he 's speaking 
to you, and say if he wouldn't do the thing for the fun of 
it ? Not but a right clever chap like him will see something 
besides a joke in the whole contrivance.' 

' I foresee he '11 break down at the first go off,' said 
Carrington ; who, through all the controversy, seemed 
impressed with the very humblest opinion of my merits. 

' I foresee exactly the reverse,' said Pike. ' I 've seldom 
met a more acute youngster, nor one readier to take up 
your meaning; and if the varlet doesn't get spoilt by 
education, but simply follows out the bent of his own 
shrewd intelligence, he '11 do well yet.' 

' You rate him more highly than I do,' said Carrington 
again. 

' Not impossible either ; we take our soundings with 
very dissimilar lead-lines,' said Pike scofnngly. 'My 
opinion is formed by hearing the boy's own observa- 
tions about character and life when he was speaking of 
Broughton ; but if you were ten times as right about him, 
and I twice as many times in the wrong, he '11 do for what 
I intend him.' 

The others expressed their full concurrence in the 
13 M 



178 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

captain's view of the matter — voted me a phoenix of all 
young vagabonds, and their brother officer Carrington a 
downright ass, both being my own private sentiments to 
the letter. 

And now for an honest avowal! It was the flattery 
of my natural acuteness — the captain's panegyric on 
my aptitude and smartness — that won me over to a 
concurrence in the scheme ; for, at heart, I neither liked 
the notion of ' service,' nor the prospect of the abstemious 
living he had so pointedly alluded to. Still, to justify the 
favourable impression he had conceived of me, and also 
with some half hope that I should see 'life' — the ruling 
passion of my mind — under a new aspect, I resolved to 
accept the proposition so soon as it should be made to me : 
nor had I long to wait that moment. 

' Con, my lad,' said the captain, ' you may leave that 
belt there ; come aft here — I want to speak to you. What 
are your plans when you reach Quebec ? Do you mean to 
look after your old master, Sir Dudley, again ? ' 

' No, sir : I have had enough of salt water for a time — 
I '11 keep my feet on dry land now.' 

' But what line of life do you propose to follow ? ' 

I hesitated for the answer and was silent. 

' I mean,' resumed he, ' is it your intention to become a 
farm-servant with some of the emigrant families, or will 
you seek for employment in the town ? ' 

' Or would you like to enlist, my lad ? ' broke in another. 

' No, thank you, sir ; promotion is slow from the ranks, 
and I 've a notion one ought to move " up," as they move 
" on," in life.' 

' Listen to the varlet now,' said Pike, in French ; ' the 
fellow's as cool with us as if we were exactly his equals 
and no more. I'll tell you what it is, lads,' added he 
seriously, ' when such rogues journey the road of life 
singly, they raise themselves to station and eminence ; but 
when they herd together in masses, these are the fellows 
who pull others down, and effect the most disastrous social 



CON CREGAN 179 

revolutions. So you'll not be a soldier, Con?' added he, 
resuming the vernacular ; ' well, what are your ideas as to 
the civil service ? ' 

' Anything to begin with, sir.' 

' Quite right, lad — well said ; a fair start is all you 
ask?' 

'Why, sir, I carry no weight, either in the shape of 
goods or character ; and if a light equipment gives speed, 
I 've a chance to be placed well.' 

The captain gave a side glance at the others as though 
to say, ' Was I correct in my opinion of this fellow ? ' and 
then went on — ' I have a thought in my head for you, 
Con : there is a lady of my acquaintance at Quebec wants 
a servant : now if you could pick up some notion of the 
duties, I 've no doubt you 'd learn the remainder rapidly.' 

' I used to wait on Sir Dudley, sir, and am therefore not 
entirely ignorant.' 

' Very true ; and as these gentlemen and myself will 
put you into training while the voyage lasts, I hope you 11 
do us credit in the end.' 

' Much will depend on my mistress, sir,' said I — deter- 
mining to profit by what I had overheard, but yet not use 
the knowledge rashly or unadvisedly. ' Should she not be 
very exacting and very particular, but have a little patience 
with me, accepting zeal for skill, I 've no doubt, sir, I '11 not 
discredit your recommendation.' 

' That 's the very point I 'm coming to, Con,' said the 
captain, lowering his voice to a most confidential tone. 
' The true state of the case is this ' ; — and here he entered 
upon an explanation which I need not trouble the reader 
by recapitulating, since it merely went the length I have 
already related, save that he added, in conclusion, this 
important piece of information. 

'Your golden rule, in every difficulty, will then be to 
assure Mrs. Davis that you always did so, whatever it may 
be, when you were living with Lord George, or Sir Charles, 
or the Bishop of Drone. You understand me — eh ? ' 



180 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

' I think so, sir,' said I, brightening up, and at the same 
time stealing an illustration from my old legal practices. 
' In Mrs. Davis' Court there are no precedents.' 

' Exactly, Con ; hit the nail on the very head, my boy ! ' 

' It will not be a very difficult game, sir, if the guests 
are like the mistress.' 

'So they are for the most part; now and then you'll 
have a military and naval officer at table, and you'll be 
obliged to look out sharp, and not let them detect you ; 
but with the skippers of merchantmen, dockyard people, 
storekeepers, male and female, I fancy you can hold your 
own.' 

' Why, sir, I hope they '11 be satisfied with the qualifica- 
tion that contented my former titled masters,' said I, with 
a knowing twinkle of the eye he seemed to relish pro- 
digiously, and an assumed tone of voice that suited well 
the part I was to play. 

' Come down below, now, and we '11 write your charac- 
ters for you '; and so he beckoned the others to accompany 
him to the cabin, whither I followed them. 

An animated debate ensued as to the number and 
nature of the certificates I ought to possess. Some being 
of opinion that I should have those of every kind and 
degree ; others alleging that my age forbade the likelihood 
of my having served in more than two or three situations. 

' What say you to this, lads ? ' said Pike, reading from 
a rough and much-corrected draft before him. 

' The bearer, Cornelius Cregan, has lived in my service 
ten months as a page; he is scrupulously honest, active, 
and intelligent, well acquainted with the duties of his 
station, and competent to discharge them in the first 
families. I now dismiss him at his own request. — Cecilia 
Mendleshaw.' 

' Gad ! I 'd rather make him start as what they call in 
his own country a " Tay-boy," ' said Carrington, ' one of 
those bits of tarnished gold-lace and gaiters seen about 
the outskirts of Dublin/ 



CON CREGAN 181 

' Your honour is right, sir,' said I, glad to show myself 
above any absurd vanity on the score of my early begin- 
ning ; ' a " Tay-boy," on the Rathmines road, able to drive 
a jaunting-car, and wait at table.' 

' That 's the mark, I believe,' said Pike. ' Suppose, then, 
we say, Con Cregan has served me twelve months, waited 
at table, and taken care of a horse and car.' 

' Ah, sir ! ' said I, ' sure an Irish gentleman with a " Tay- 
boy " would be finer spoken than that. It would be, " I 
certify that Cornelius Cregan, who served in my establish- 
ment as under-butler, and occasionally assisting the coach- 
man, is a most respectable servant, well-mannered and 
respectful, having always lived in high situations, and 
with the most distinguished families." ' 

'Ah, that's it,' broke in Carrington; 'understands lamps, 
and is perfectly competent to make jellies, soups, and 
preserves.' 

' Confound it, man ! you 're making him a cook.' 

' By Jove, so I was ; it 's so hard to remember what the 
fellow is.' 

'I think we may leave it to himself,' said Pike; 'he 
seems to have a very good notion of what is necessary ; so, 
Master Con, write your own biography, my lad, and we '11 
give it all the needful currency of handwriting and seal.' 

' It 's a pity you 're a Papist,' said another, ' or you could 
have such a recommendation from a "serious family," I 
know of, in Surrey.' 

'Never mind,' rejoined the captain, 'one signed "P. O. 
Dowdlum, Bishop of Toronia," will do even better in the 
Lower Province.' 

' Exactly, sir ; and as I used to serve mass once, I can 
"come out strong" about my early training with "his 
grace ! " ' 

'Very well,' said Pike; 'tell the tailor to take your 
measure for the livery, and you'll wait on us to-day at 
table.' With this order I was dismissed to con over my 
fictitious and speculate on my true ' character.' 




QUEBEC 

S viewed from Diamond Harbour, a more 
striking city than Quebec is seldom seen. The great rock 
rising above the Lower Town, and crowned with its 
batteries, all bristling with guns, seemed to my eyes the 
very realisation of impregnability. I looked from the 
ship that lay tranquilly on the water below, and whose 
decks were thronged with blue-jackets, to the Highlander 
who paced his short path as sentry some hundred feet 



THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 183 

high upon the wall of the fortress; and I thought to 
myself, with such defenders as these, that standard 
yonder need never carry any other banner. 

The whole view is panoramic. The bending of the 
river shuts out the channel by which you have made your 
approach, giving the semblance of a lake on whose surface 
vessels of every nation lie at anchor, some with the sails 
hung out to dry, gracefully drooping from the taper spars; 
others refitting again for sea, and loading the huge pine- 
trunks, moored as vast rafts to the stern. There were 
people everywhere: all was motion, life, and activity. 
Jolly-boats with twenty oars, man-of-war gigs bounding 
rapidly past them with eight ; canoes skimming by with- 
out a ripple, and seemingly without impulse, till you 
caught sight of the lounging figure who lay at full length 
in the stern, and whose red features were scarce dis- 
tinguishable from the copper-coloured bark of his boat. 
Some moved upon the rafts, and even on single trunks of 
trees, as, separated from the mass, they floated down on 
the swift current, boathook in hand, to catch at the first 
object chance might offer them. The quays, and the 
streets leading down to them, were all thronged ; and, as 
you cast your eye upwards, here and there above the tall 
roofs might be seen the winding flight of stairs that lead 
to the Upper Town, alike dark with the moving tide of 
men. On every embrasure and gallery, on every terrace 
and platform, it was the same. Never did I behold such a 
human tide ! 

Now there was something amazingly inspiriting in all 
this, particularly when coming from the solitude and 
monotony of a long voyage. The very voices that ye- 
hoed ; the hoarse challenge of the sentinels on the rock ; 
the busy hum of the town — made delicious music to my 
ear ; and I could have stood and leaned over the bulwark 
for hours to gaze at the scene. I own no higher interest 
invested the picture, for I was ignorant of Wolfe. I had 
never heard of Montcalm ; the plains of ' Abra'm ' were to 



184 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

me but grassy slopes, and ' nothing more.' It was the life 
and stir — the tide of that human ocean on which I longed 
myself to be a swimmer — these were what charmed me. 
Nor was the deck of the old Hampden inactive all the 
while, although seldom attracting much of my notice. 
Soldiers were mustering, knapsacks packing, rolls calling, 
belts buffing, and coats brushing on all sides ; men 
grumbling ; sergeants cursing ; officers swearing ; half- 
dressed invalids popping up their heads out of hatch- 
ways answering to wrong names, and doctors ordering 
them down again with many an anathema ; soldiers in the 
way of sailors, and sailors always hauling at something 
that interfered with the inspection-drill ; every one in the 
wrong place, and each cursing his neighbour for stupidity. 

At last the shore-boats boarded us, as if our confusion 
wanted anything to increase it. Red-faced harbour- 
masters shook hands with the skipper and pilot, and 
disappeared into the ' round-house ' to discuss grog and 
the late gales. Officers from the garrison came out to 
welcome their friends — for it was the second battalion 
we had on board of a regiment whose first had been 
some years in Canada — and then what a rush of inquiries 
were exchanged. ' How 's the Duke ? ' ' All quiet in 
England ? ' ' No signs of war in Europe ? ' ' Are the 8th 
come home ? ' ' Where 's Forbes ? ' ' Has Davern sold 
out?' — with a mass of such small interests as engage 
men who live in coteries. 

Then there were emissaries for newspapers eagerly 
hunting for spicy rumours not found in the last journals ; 
waiters of hotels, porters, boatmen, guides, Indians with 
moccasins to sell, and a hundred other functionaries 
bespeaking custom and patronage ; and, although often 
driven over the side most ignominiously at one moment, 
certain to reappear the next at the opposite gangway. 

How order could ever be established in this floating 
Babel I knew not, and yet at last all got into train 
somehow. 



CON CREGAN 185 

First one large boat crammed with men, who sat even 
on the gunwales, moved slowly away ; then another and 
another followed ; a lubberly thing, half lighter half jolly- 
boat, was soon loaded with baggage — amid which some 
soldiers' wives and a scattering population of babies were 
seen ; till by degrees the deck was cleared, and none 
remained of all that vast multitude save the ' mate ' and 
the ' watch ' ; who proceeded to get things ' ship-shape ' 
pretty much in the same good-tempered spirit servants 
are accustomed to put the drawing-rooms to rights after 
an entertainment which has kept them up till daylight, 
and allows of no time for sleep. Till then I had not the 
slightest conception of what a voyage ended meant, and 
that when the anchor dropped from the bow a scene of 
bustle ensued to which nothing at sea bore any proportion. 
Now I had no friends : no one came to welcome me, none 
asked for my name. The officers, even the captain, in the 
excitement of arriving, had forgotten all about me; so 
that when the mate put the question to me, ' why I didn't 
go ashore ? ' I had no other answer to give him than the 
honest one, ' that I had nothing to do when I got there,' 
' I suppose you know how to gain a livin' one way or 
t'other, my lad?' said he, with a very disparaging glance 
out of the corner of his eye. 

' I am ashamed to say, sir, that I do not.' 

' Well, I never seed Picaroons starve, that 's a comfort 
you have ; but as we don't mean to mess you here, you 'd 
better get your kit on deck and prepare to go ashore.' 

Now the kit alluded to was the chest of clothes given to 
me by the captain, which, being bestowed for a particular 
purpose, and with an object now seemingly abandoned or 
forgotten, I began to feel scruples as to my having any 
claim to. Like an actor whose engagement had been for 
one part, I did not think myself warranted in carrying 
away the wardrobe of my character ; besides, who should 
tell how the captain might resent such conduct on my side. 
I might be treated as a thief! — I, Con Cregan, who had 



186 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

registered a solemn vow in my own heart to be a ' gentle- 
man ' : such an indignity should not be entertained even 
in thought. Yet was it very hard for one in possession of 
such an admirable wardrobe to want a dinner — for one so 
luxuriously apparelled on the outside to be so lamentably 
unprovided within. From the solution of this knotty 
question I was most fortunately preserved by the arrival 
of a corporal of the — th, who came with an order from 
Captain Pike that I should at once repair to his quarters 
in the Upper Town. 

Not being perhaps in his captain's confidence, nor 
having any very clear notion of my precise station in life 
— for I was dressed in an old cloak and a foraging-cap — 
the corporal delivered his message to me with a military 
salute, and a certain air of deference very grateful to my 
feelings. 

' Have you a boat alongside, corporal ? ' said I, as I 
lounged listlessly on the binnacle. 

' Yes, sir ; a pair of oars — will that do ? ' 

1 Yes, that will do,' replied I negligently ; ' see my traps 
safe on board, and tell me when all 's ready.' 

The corporal saluted once more, and went to give the 
necessary directions ; meanwhile the mate, who had been 
a most amazed spectator of the scene, came over and stood 
right opposite me with an expression of the most ludicrous 
doubt and hesitation. It was just at that moment that, in 
drawing the cloak round me, I discovered in a pocket of it 
an old cigar-case. I took it out with the most easy non- 
chalance, and leisurely striking a light, began smoking 
away, and not bestowing even a glance at my neighbour. 

Astonishment had so completely gotten the better of 
the man that he could not utter a word ; and I perceived 
that he had to look over the side, where the boat lay, to 
assure himself that the whole was reality. 

'All right, sir,' said the corporal, carrying his hand to 
his cap. 

I arose languidly from my recumbent position and 



CON CREGAN 187 

followed the soldier to the gangway ; then turning slowly 
around, I surveyed the mate from head to foot with a 
glance of mild but contemptuous pity, while I said, ' In 
your station, my good man, the lesson is perhaps not 
called for, since you may rarely be called on to exercise 
it; but I would wish to observe that you will save your- 
self much humiliation and considerable contempt by not 
taking people for what they seem by externals.' With 
this grave admonition, delivered in a half -theatrical tone 
of voice, I draped my ' toga,' so as to hide any imperfection 
of my interior costume, and descended majestically into 
the boat. When we reached the barrack, which was in the 
Upper Town, the captain was at mess ; but had left orders 
that I should have my dinner and be ready at his quarters, 
in my full livery, in the evening. 

I dined, very much to my satisfaction, on some of 
the debris of the mess ; and under the auspices of the 
captain's servant, arrayed myself in my new finery, which, 
I am free to confess, presented what artists would call ' a 
flashy bit of colour ' ; being far more in the style of Horace 
Vernet than Van Dyck. Had the choice been given me, I 
own I should have preferred wooing Fortune in more 
sombre habiliments ; but this was a mere minor considera- 
tion, and so I felt, as I found myself standing alone in the 
captain's sitting-room, and endeavouring to accustom 
myself to my own very showy identity, as reflected in a 
large cheval glass, which exhibited me down to the very 
buckles of my shoes. 

I will not affirm it positively, but only throw it out as a 
hint, that the major part of a decanter of sherry, which I 
discussed at dinner, aided in lifting me above the paltry 
consideration of mere appearance, and made me feel what 
I have often heard ragged vagabonds in the streets 
denominate, ' the dignity of a man.' By degrees, too, I not 
only grew reconciled to the gaudy costume, but began — 
strange accommodation of feeling — actually to enjoy its 
distinctive character. 



188 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

' There are young gentlemen, Con,' said I, in soliloquy, 
' many are there who would look absurd merry-andrews if 
dressed in this fashion. There are fellows to whom this 
kind of thing would be a sore test! These bright tints 
would play the very devil with their complexion — not 
to mention that every one's legs couldn't afford such 
publicity! But Con, my friend, you have a natural 
aptitude for every shade of colour, and for every station 
and condition. Courage, my boy! although in the rear- 
rank at present, you '11 march in the van yet. Nature has 
been gracious with you, Mr. Cregan!' said I, warming 
with the subject, while with my hands deep down in my 
coat-pockets I walked backward and forward before the 
glass, stealing sidelong glances at myself as I passed; 
' there are fellows who, born in your station, would have 
died in it without a bit more influence over their fate in 
this life than a Poldoody oyster; they'd vegetate to the 
end of existence, and slip out of the world, as a fellow 
shirks out of a shebeen-house when he hasn't tu'pence for 
another " dandy " of punch. Not so with you, Con Cregan ! 
You have hydrogen in you — you have the buoyant ele- 
ment that soars above the vulgar herd. These are not 
the partial sentiments of a dear friend, Con ; they are the 
current opinions of the world about you. How soon the 
" captain " saw what stuff you were made of. How long was 
old Pike in detecting the latent powers of your intellect ? ' 
What a shout of laughter followed these words ! It came 
from half-a-dozen officers, who, having entered the room 
during my apostrophe, had concealed themselves behind a 
screen to listen to the peroration. 

They now rushed out in a body, and throwing them- 
selves into chairs and upon sofas, laughed till the very 
room rang with the clamour, the captain himself joining 
in the emotion with all his heart. As for me, however 
self-satisfied but one moment back, I was humbled to the 
very earth now; the vauntings by which I had been 
soothing my vanity were suddenly turned into scoffs and 




Ton's modest soliloquy 



CON CREGAN 189 

sneers at my self-conceit, and I actually looked to see if I 
could not leap out of the window, and never be seen by 
one of the party again. The window, however, was barred 
— the door was unapproachable — there was a fire in the 
grate — and so, as escape was denied me, I at once 
abandoned a plan which I saw unfeasible ; and with a 
quickness to which I owe much in life, immediately 
adopted an opposite tactic. Assuming a deferential 
position, I drew back towards the wall, to be laughed 
at as long as the honourable company should fancy it. 

' So, Mr. Cregan,' cried one, drying his eyes with his 
handkerchief, ' modesty is one of those invaluable gifts 
with which nature has favoured you ? ' 

' I sincerely trust it may be no bar to your advance- 
ment,' said another. 

' Rather cruel,' added a third, ' to be balked for such a 
mere trifle.' 

' I say, Pike,' added another, ' I rather envy you the 
insinuated flattery of your discrimination. It would seem 
that you detected the precious metal here at once.' 

' What country do you come from, boy ? ' said a hard- 
featured old officer, who had laughed less than the 
others. 

1 How can you ask, Chudleigh ? ' said another ; ' there 's 
only one land rears that plant.' 

' There 's a weed very like it in Scotland, M'Aldine,' said 
the captain, with a grin which the last speaker did not 
half relish. 

' You 're Hirish, ain't you ? ' said a very boyish-looking 
ensign with sore eyes. 

' Yes, sir.' 

' Very much so, I fancy,' said he, laughing as though he 
had been very droll. 

' I always heard your countrymen had wings ; what has 
become of them ? ' 

' I believe we used to have, sir ; but the English plucked 
us,' said I, with a look of assumed simplicity. 



190 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

' And what is all that about the Blarney stone ? ' said 
another ; ' isn't there some story or other about it ? ' 

' It 's a stone they kiss in my country, sir, to give us a 
smooth tongue.' 

' I don't see the great use of that,' rejoined he, with a 
stupid look. 

'It's mighty useful at times, sir,' said I, with a half 
glance towards Captain Pike. 

' You 're too much, gentlemen, far too much for my 
poor friend Con,' said the captain ; ' you forget that he 's 
only a poor Irish lad. Come, now, let us rather think of 
starting him in the world with something to keep the 
devil out of his pocket.' And with this kind suggestion 
he chucked a dollar into his cap, and then commenced a 
begging tour of the room, which, I am ready to confess, 
showed the company to be far more generous than they 
were witty. 

' Here, Master Con,' said he, as he poured the contents 
into my two hands, 'here is wherewithal to pay your 
footing at Mrs. Davis's. As a traveller from the old 
country, you'll be expected to entertain the servants' hall 
— do it liberally; there's nothing like a bold push at the 
first go off.' 

' I know it, sir ; my father used to say that the gentle- 
man always won his election who made most freeholders 
drunk the first day of the poll.' 

' Your father was a man of keen observation, Con.' 

'And is, sir, still, with your leave, if kangaroo meat 
hasn't disagreed with him and left me to sustain the 
honours of the house.' 

' Oh, that 's it, Con, is it ? ' said Captain Pike, with a sly 
glance. 

'Yes, sir, that's it,' said I, replying more to his look 
than his words. 

'Here's the letter for Mrs. Davis — you'll present it 
early to-morrow ; be discreet, keep your own counsel, 
and I 've no doubt you 11 do well.' 



CON CREGAN 191 

' I 'd be an ungrateful vagabond if I made your honour 
out a false prophet,' said I ; and bowing respectfully to the 
company, I withdrew. 

'What a wonderful principle of equilibrium exists 
between one's heart and one's pocket ! ' thought I, as 
I went downstairs. ' I never felt the former so light 
as now that the latter is heavy.' 

I wandered out into the town, somewhat puzzled how 
to dispose of myself for the evening. Had I been perform- 
ing the part of a ' walking gentleman,' I fancied I could 
have easily hit upon some appropriate and becoming 
pastime. A theatre — there was one in the Lower Town 
— and a tavern afterwards, would have filled the interval 
before it was time to go to bed. ' Time to go to bed ! ' — ■ 
strange phrase ! born of a thousand-and-one convention- 
alities. For some, that time comes when the sun has set, 
and with its last beams of rosy light reminds labour of the 
coming morrow. To some it is the hour when wearied 
faculties can do no more — when tired intellect falters ' by 
the way,' and cannot keep the ' line of march.' To others 
it comes with dawning light, and when roses and rouge 
look ghastly ; and to others, again, whose ' deeds are evil,' 
it is the glare of noonday. 

Now, as for me, I was neither wearied by toil nor 
pleasure ; no sense of past fatigue — no anticipation of 
coming exertion — invited slumber ; nay, I was actually 
more wakeful than I had been during the entire evening, 
and I felt a most impulsive desire for a little social enjoy- 
ment — that kind of intercourse with strangers which I 
always remarked had the effect of eliciting my own con- 
versational qualities to a degree that astonished even 
myself. 

In search of some house of entertainment — some public 
resort — I paced all the streets of the Upper Town, but to 
no purpose. Occasionally, lights in a drawing-room, and 
the sound of a piano, would tell where some small evening- 
party was assembled; or now and then, from a lower 



192 THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 

storey, a joyous roar of laughter, or the merry chorus of 
a drinking-song, would bespeak some after-dinner con- 
vivialities ; but to mingle in scenes like these I felt that 
I had yet a long road to travel — ay, to pass muster in the 
very humblest of those circles, what a deal had I to learn ! 
How much humility, how much confidence; what defer- 
ence, and what self-reliance ; what mingled gravity and 
levity; what shades and gradations of colour, so nicely 
balanced and proportioned too, that, unresolved by the 
prism, they show no preponderating tint — make up that 
pellucid property men call ' Tact ! ' Ay, Con, that is your 
rarest gift of all ! only acquire that, and you may dispense 
with ancestry, and kindred, and even wealth itself ; since 
he who has ' tact ' participates in all these advantages, 
' among his friends' 

As I mused thus I had reached the Lower Town, and 
found myself opposite the door of a tavern, over which 
a brilliant lamp illuminated the sign of ' The British 
Grenadier,' a species of canteen in high favour with 
sergeants and quartermasters of the garrison. I entered 
boldly and with the intention of behaving generously to 
myself; but scarcely had I passed the threshold than I 
heard a sharp voice utter in a half -whisper, ' Dang me, if 
he an't in livery ! ' 

I did not wait for more. My ' tact ' assured me that 
even there I was not admissible ; so I strolled out again, 
muttering to myself, ' When a man has neither friend nor 
supper, and the hour is past midnight, the chances are it 
is "time to go to bed'"; and with this sage reflection I 
wended my way towards a humble lodging-house on the 
quay, over which on landing I read the words, ' The 
Emigrant's Home.' 




y 

HOW I ' FELL IN ' AND ' OUT ' WITH ' THE WIDOW DAVIS ' 






For the sake of conciseness in this veracious history, I 
prefer making the reader acquainted at once with facts 
and individuals, not by the slow process in which the 
knowledge of them was acquired by myself, but in all the 
plenitude which intimate acquaintance now supplies ; and 
although this may not seem to accord with the bit-by-bit 
and day-by-day narrative of a life, it saves a world of time, 
some patience, and mayhap some skipping too. Under this 
plea I have already introduced Sir Dudley Broughton to 
the reader, and now, with permission, mean to present 
Mrs. Davis. 

13 N 



194 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

Mrs. Davis, relict of Thomas John Davis, was a char- 
acter so associated with Quebec, that to speak of that city 
without her would be like writing an account of New- 
foundland and never alluding to the article ' cod-fish.' 
For a great number of years her house had been the 
rendezvous of everything houseless, from the newly come 
'married' officer to the flash commercial traveller from 
the States ; from the agent of an unknown land company 
to the ' skipper ' of a rank pretentious enough to dine at 
a boarding-house. The establishment — as she loved to 
style it — combined all the free-and-easy air of domesticity 
with the enjoyment of society. It was an 'acted news- 
paper,' where paragraphs, military and naval, social, 
scandalous, and commercial, were fabricated with a speed 
no ' compositor ' could have kept up with. Here the 
newly arrived subaltern heard all the pipeclay gossip, 
not of the garrison, but of the Province ; here the bag- 
man made contracts and took orders ; here the ' French 
Deputy' picked up what he called afterwards in the 
Chamber Vopinion publique; and here the men of pine- 
logs and white deal imbibed what they fervently believed 
to be the habits and manners of the ' English aristocracy.' 
' To invest the establishment with this character,' to make 
it go forth to the world as the mirror of high and fashion- 
able life, had been the passion of Mrs. D.'s existence. Never 
did monarch labour for the safeguard that might fence and 
hedge round his dynasty more zealously: never did minister 
strive for the guarantees that should ensure the continu- 
ance of his system. It was the moving purpose of her life ; 
in it she had invested all her activity, both of mind and 
body ; and as she looked back to the barbarism from which 
her generous devotion had rescued hundreds, she might 
well be pardoned if a ray of self-glorification lighted up 
her face. ' When I think of Quebec when T. J.' — her 
familiar mode of alluding to the defunct Thomas John — 
' and myself first beheld it,' would she say, ' and see it now, 
I believe I may be proud.' The social habits were indeed 



CON CREGAN 195 

at a low ebb. The skippers — and there were few other 
strangers — had a manifest contempt for the use of the 
fork at dinner, and performed a kind of sword-exercise 
while eating, of the most fearful kind. Napkins were 
always misconstrued — the prevailing impression being 
that they were pocket-handkerchiefs. No man had any 
vested interest in his own wine-glass ; while thirsty souls 
even dispensed with such luxuries, and drank from the 
bottle itself. 

Then sea-usages had carried themselves into shore life. 
The company were continually getting up to look out of 
windows, watching the vessels that passed, remarking on 
the state of the tide, and then resuming their places with 
a muttering over the ' half ebb,' and that the wind was 
' northing-by-west,' looked for change. All the conversa- 
tion smacked of salt water ; every allusion had an odour 
of tar and seaweed about it. 

Poor Mrs. Davis ! how was she to civilise these savages ? 
how invest their lives with any interest above timber? 
They would not listen to the polite news of ' Government 
House'; they would not vouchsafe the least attention to 
the interesting paragraphs she recited as table-talk — how 
the Prince of Hohenhumbughousen had arrived at Windsor 
on a visit to Majesty; nor how Royalty walked in 'The 
Slopes,' or sat for its picture. 

Of the Duke of Northumberland, they only knew a 
troop-ship of the name, and even that had been water- 
logged ! The Wellington traded to Mirimachi, and the 
Robert Peel was a barque belonging to Newfoundland, 
and employed in general traffic, and not believed very 
seaworthy. 

Some may make the ungracious remark, that she might 
have spared herself this task of humanising — that she 
could have left these ' ligneous Christians,' these creatures 
of tar and turpentine, where she found them. The same 
observation will apply equally to Cooke, to Franklin, to 
Brooke of Borneo, and a hundred other civilisers : so Mrs. 



196 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

D. felt it, and so she laboured to make T. J. feel it ; but he 
wouldn't. The ungrateful old bear saw the ordinary grow 
daily thinner — he perceived that Banquo might have seated 
himself at any part of the table, and he actually upbraided 
his wife with the fact. Every day he announced some 
new defection from the list of their old supporters. Now 
it was old Ben Crosseley, of the Lively Biddy, that wouldn't 
stand being ordered to shake out his canvas — that is, to 
spread his napkin — when he was taking in sea store : then 
it was Tom Galket grew indignant at not being permitted 
to beat ' to quarters ' with his knuckles at every pause in 
the dinner. Some were put out by being obliged to sit 
with their legs under the table, being long habituated to 
dine at a cask with a plank on it, and of course keeping 
their limbs ' stowed away ' under the seat ; and one, an old 
and much respected river pilot, was carried away insensible 
from table, on hearing that grog was not a recognised 
table beverage throughout the British dominions. 

The banishment of lobscouse and sea-pie — pork, with its 
concomitant cataplasm of peas, and other similar delicacies 
from the bill of fare, completed the defection ; and at last, 
none remained of the ' once goodlie company,' save an old 
attenuated Guernsey skipper, too much in debt to leave, 
but who attributed his fealty to the preference he enter- 
tained for les usages de la bonne societe, et la charmante Mme. 
Davis. T. J. could never hold up his head again ; he moped 
about the docks and quays, like the restless spirit of some 
Ancient Mariner. Every one pitied him ; and he grew so 
accustomed to condolence — so dependent, in fact, on com- 
miseration — that he spent his days in rowing from one 
ship to the other in the harbour, drinking grog with the 
skippers, till, by dint of pure sympathy, he slipped quietly 
into his grave, after something like a two years' attack of 
delirium tremens. 

The same week that saw T. J. descend to the tomb, saw 
his widow ascend to the Upper Town — the more con- 
genial locality for aspirations like hers. If no eulogistic 



CON CREGAN 197 

inscription marked his resting-place, a very showy brass 
plate adorned hers. From that hour she was emancipated : 
it seemed, indeed, as if she had turned a corner in life, and 
at once emerged from gloom and darkness into sunshine. 
It chanced that the barracks were at that very moment 
undergoing repair, and several officers were glad to find, 
at a convenient distance, the comforts and accommodations 
which a plausible advertisement in the Quebec Messenger 
assured them were to be obtained for one pound one 
shilling weekly. 

There are people who tell you that we live in a heart- 
less, selfish, grabbing, grasping age, where each preys upon 
his neighbour, and where gain is the spirit of every 
contract ; and yet, in what period of the world was 
maternal tenderness, the comforts of a home, the watchful 
anxieties of parental love, to be had so cheaply? Who 
ever heard of bachelors being admitted into families, 
where music and the arts formed the evening's recreation, 
in the Middle Ages? Does Herodotus inform us, that 
'young and attractive ladies would take charge of a 
widower's household, and superintend the care of his 
family ? ' Not a bit of it ! On this point, at least, the 
wisdom of our ancestors has no chance with us. There is 
not a wish of the heart, there is not a yearning of the 
affections, that a three-and-sixpenny advertisement in the 
Times will not evoke a remedy for. You can make love, 
or a book, or a speech, by deputy ; for every relative you 
lose, there are fifty kind-hearted creatures to supply the 
place; and not only may you travel over half the globe 
without more personal exertion than it costs you to go 
to bed, but you can be measured either for a wife or a 
suit of clothes without ever seeing the lady or the tailor. 

The ' Hotel Davis,' so said the newspaper, ' was situated 
in the most airy and healthful locality of the Upper Town.' 
No one ever rang the bell of the hall door from the first of 
October to May, but would acknowledge the truth of the 
first epithet. 'The society, for admission to which the 



198 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

most particular references are required, embraces all that 
is intellectual, high-bred, and refined. The table, where 
preside the " feast of reason and the flow of soul," combines 
the elegance and delicacy of the French, with the less 
sophisticated succulence of English cookery. Intellectual 
resources — the humanising influences of song and poetry 
— the varied pleasures of cultivated and kindred spirits, 
which have won for this establishment the epithet of the 
Davisian Acropolis, continue to make it the chosen retreat 
of gentlemen connected with civil and military pursuits, 
who are lodged and boarded for one guinea weekly. 

' Receptions every Thursday. Balls, during the winter, 
on the first Monday of each month.' 

Such was one among many — I select it as the shortest — 
announcements of this cheap Elysium : and now, two words 
about Mrs. D. herself. She was a poor, thin, shrivelled-up 
little woman, with a rugged, broken-up face, whose profile 
looked like a jagged saw. Next to elegance of manner, her 
passion was personal appearance — by which she meant the 
adventitious aid of false hair, rouge, and cosmetics, and 
these she employed with such ever-varying ingenuity, 
that her complexion changed daily from classic pallor to 
Spanish richness, while the angle of incidence of her eye- 
brows took in everything from forty-five degrees to the 
horizontal. Her style was ' sylph,' and so she was gauzy 
and floating in all her drapery. A black veil to the back 
of her head — a filmy, gossamer-kind of scarf across her 
shoulders — assisted this deception, and, when she crossed 
the room, gave her the air of a clothes-line in a high 
wind. 

Black mittens, over fingers glowing in all the splendour 
of rings, and a locket about the size of a cheeseplate, 
containing the hair — some said, the scalp— of the late T. J., 
completed a costume which Mrs. D. herself believed 
Parisian, but to which no revolution, democratic or social, 
could reduce a Frenchwoman. 

She borrowed her language as well as her costume from 



CON CREGAN 199 

the Grande Nation, and with this comfortable reflection, 
that she was not likely to be asked to restore the loan. 
Her French was about as incongruous as her dress — but 
Quebec, fortunately, was not Paris ; and she drove her 
coach and six through 'Adelow,' with a hardihood that 
outstripped, if it did not defy, criticism. 

By the military and naval people she was deemed the 
best 'fun' going; her pretension, her affectation, her 
shrewdness, and her simplicity ; her religious homage to 
fashion ; her unmerciful tyranny towards what she thought 
vulgarity, made her the subject of many a joke and much 
amusement. The other classes, the more regular habitues 
of the ' house,' thought she was a princess in disguise ; they 
revered her opinions as oracles, and only wondered how 
the court-end could spare one so evidently formed to be 
the glass of fashion. 

If I have been too prolix in my sketch, kind reader, 
attribute it to the true cause — my anxiety to serve those 
who are good enough to place themselves under my 
guidance. Mrs. D. still lives ; the establishment still 
survives ; at five o'clock each day — ay, this very day, I 
have no doubt — her table is crowded by 'the rank and 
fashion' of the Quebec world: and the chances are, if 
you yourself, worthy reader, should visit that city, that 
you may be glad to give your blank days to the fare of 
Madam Davis. 

It was ten o'clock in the forenoon as I arrived at her 
door, and sent in Captain Pike's letter, announcing my 
arrival. I found Mrs. D. in what she called her own room — 
a little den of about eleven feet square, shelved all round, 
and showing an array of jars and preserve-pots that was 
most imposing — the offerings of skippers from the West 
India Islands and Madeira, who paid a kind of blackmail 
in preserved ginger, guavas, yams, pepper-pots, chili, and 
potted crabs, that would have given liver complaints to 
half the Province. 

Mrs. D. was standing on a step-ladder, arranging her 



200 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

treasures by the aid of a negro-boy of about twelve years 
old, as I entered ; and not feeling that I was of consequence 
sufficient to require a more formal audience, she took a 
steady and patient observation of me, and then resumed 
her labours. The little window, about six feet from the 
ground, threw a fine Rembrandt light upon me, as I stood 
in my showy habiliments, endeavouring, by an imposing 
attitude, to exhibit myself to the best advantage. 

' Forty-seven ; Guava jelly, Sambo ! — where is forty- 
seven ? ' 

' Me no see him,' said Sambo ; ' missus eat him up, 
perhaps.' 

' Monsonze ! you filthy creature — look for it, sirrah ' ; so 
saying, Mrs. Davis applied her double eyeglass to her eyes, 
and again surveyed me for some seconds. 

'You are the' — she hesitated — 'the young person my 
friend Pike brought out, I believe ? ' 

' Yes, my lady,' said I, bowing profoundly. 

'What's your name; the captain has not written it 
clearly ? ' 

' Cregan, my lady — Con Cregan.' 

'Con — Con,' repeated she twice or thrice; 'what does 
Con mean?' 

' It 's the short for Cornelius, my lady.' 

' Ah, the abbreviation for Cornelius ! — and where have 
you lived, Cornelius ? ' 

'My last place, my lady, was Sir Miles O'Ryan's, of 
Roaring Water.' 

'What are you doing, you wretch? — take your filthy 
fingers out of that pot this instant ! ' screamed she 
suddenly. 

' Me taste him, an' he be dam hot ! ' cried the nigger, 
dancing from one foot to the other, as his mouth was 
on fire from tasting capsicum pods. 

I thought of my own mustard experience, and then, 
turning a glance of ineffable contempt upon my black 
friend, said, 'Those creatures, my lady, are so ignorant, 




How Con fell m with the "Vido-w D; 



CON CREGAN 201 

they really do not know the nature of the commonest 
condiments.' 

' Very true, Cornelius ; I would wish, however, to 
observe to you, that although my family are all persons 
of rank, I have no title myself — that is to say,' added she, 
with a pleasing smile, ' I do not assume it here — therefore, 
until we return to England, you needn't address me as 
ladyship.' 

'No, my lady — I beg your ladyship's pardon for for- 
getting, but as I have always lived in high families, I 've 
got the habit, my lady, of saying my lady.' 

' I am Madam — plain Madam Davis — there, I knew you 'd 
do it, you nasty little beast, you odious black creature ! ' 
This sudden apostrophe was evoked by the nigger en- 
deavouring to balance a jam-pot on his thumb, while he 
spun it round with the other hand — an exploit that ended 
in a smash of the jar, and a squash of the jam all over 
my silk stockings. 

' It 's of no consequence, my lady ; I shall change them 
when I dress for dinner,' said I, with consummate ease. 

'The jam is lost, however — will you kindly beat him 
about the head with that candlestick beside you ? ' 

I seized the implement, as if in most choleric mood ; but 
my black was not to be caught so easily ; and with a dive 
between my legs he bolted for the door — whilst I was 
pitched forward against the step-ladder, head foremost. 
In my terror I threw out my hands to save myself, and 
caught — not the ladder, but Madam Davis's legs — and 
down we went together, with a small avalanche of brown 
jars and preserve-pots clattering over us. 

As I had gone head foremost, my head through the 
ladder, and as Mrs. Davis had fallen on the top of me — 
her head being reversed — there we lay, like herrings in 
a barrel, till her swoon had passed away. At last she did 
rally; and gathering herself up, sat against the wall, a 
most rueful picture of bruises and disorder, while I, 
emerging from between the steps of the ladder, began 



202 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

to examine whether it were marmalade or my brains 
that I felt coming down my cheek. 

' You '11 never mention this shocking event, Cornelius,' 
said she, trying to adjust her wig, which now faced over 
the left shoulder. 

' Never, my lady. Am I to consider myself engaged ? ' 

' Yes, on the terms of Captain Pike's note — ten pounds ; 
no wine nor tea-money, no passage-fare out, no livery, 

no ' I was afraid she was going to add no prog, but she 

grew faint, and merely said, ' Bring me a glass of water.' 

'I'll put you in charge of the lamps and plate to- 
morrow,' said she, recovering. 

'Very well, madam,' said I aloud — while to myself I 
muttered, ' they might easily be in better hands.' 

' You 11 wait at table to-day.' 

' Yes, my lady — madam, I mean.' 

' Soup always goes first to Mrs. Trussf ord — black velvet, 
and very fat ; then to the lady in blue spectacles ; after- 
wards Miss Moriarty. Ah, I'm too weak for giving 
directions ; I'm in what they call un etat de faiblesse ' ; 
and with these words Mrs. Davis retired, leaving me to 
the contemplation of the battlefield and my own bruises. 

My next care was to present myself below-stairs ; and 
although some may smile at the avowal, I had far more 
misgivings about how I should pass muster with the 
underlings, than with the head of the department. Is 
the reader aware that it was a farrier of the Emperor 
Alexander's guard who first predicted the destruction of 
the ' grand army ' in Russia ? A French horseshoe was 
shown to him, as a curiosity; and he immediately ex- 
claimed, ' What ! not yet frost-roughed ! these fellows don't 
know the climate ; the snows begin to-morrow ! ' so is it 
— ignorance and pretension are infallibly discovered by 
'routine' people; they look to details, and they at once 
detect him who mistakes or overlooks them. 

Resolving, at all events, to make my ' Old- World ' habits 
stand my part in every difficulty, and to sneer down every- 



CON CEEGAN 203 

thing I did not understand, I put on a bold face, and 
descended to the lower regions. 

Great people, ' Ministers,' and Secretaries for the ' Home' 
and 'Foreign,' little know how great their privilege is, 
that in taking office, they are spared all unpleasant meet- 
ings with their predecessors. At least, I conclude such to 
be the case ; and that my Lord Palmerston ' stepping in ' 
does not come abruptly upon Lord Aberdeen ' going out,' 
nor does an angry altercation arise between him who 
arrives to stay and he who is packing his portmanteau 
to be off. I say that I opine as much, and that both 
the entrance and the departure are conducted with due 
etiquette and propriety; in fact, that Lord A. has called 
his cab and slipped away, before Lord P. has begun to 
' take up ' the ' spoons ' — not a bad metaphor, by the way — 
for an entrance into the Foreign Office. 

No such decorous reserve presides over the change of 
a domestic ministry. The whole warfare of opposition is 
condensed into one angry moment, and the rival parties 
are brought face to face in the most ungracious fashion. 

Now, my system in life was that so well and popularly 
known by the name of M. Guizot, la paix a tout prix ; and 
I take pride to myself in thinking that I have carried it 
out with more success. With a firm resolve, therefore, 
that no temptation should induce me to deviate from a 
pacific policy, I entered the kitchen, where the 'lower 
house ' was then ' in committee ' — the ' cook in the chair ! ' 

' Here he com, now ! ' said Blackie ; and the assembly 
grew hushed as I entered. 

' Ay, here he comes ! ' said I, re-echoing the speech ; ' and 
let us see if we shall not be merry comrades.' 

The address was a happy one ; and that evening closed 
upon me in the very pinnacle of popularity. 

I have hesitated for some time whether I should not 
ask of my reader to enrol himself for a short space as a 
member of ' the establishment ' ; or even to sojourn one 
day beneath a roof where so many originals were con- 



204 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

gregated ; to witness the very table itself, set out with its 
artificial fruits and flowers, its pine-apples in wax, and its 
peaches of paper; all the appliances by which Mrs. D., 
in her ardent zeal, hoped to propagate refinement and 
abstemiousness ; high-breeding and low diet being, in her 
esteem, inseparably united. To see the company — the 
poor old faded and crushed flowers of mock gentility — 
widows and unmarried daughters of tax-collectors long 
'gathered'; polite storekeepers, and apothecaries to the 
'Forces,' cultivating the Graces at the cost of their 
appetites, and descending, in costumes of twenty years 
back, in the pleasing delusion of being ' dressed ' for dinner ; 
while here and there some unhappy skipper, undergoing 
a course of refinement, looked like a bear in a 'ballet,' 
ashamed of his awkwardness, and even still more ashamed 
of the company wherein he found himself; and lastly, 
some old Seigneur of the Lower Province — a poor, wasted, 
wrinkled creature, covered with hair-powder and snuff, but 
yet, strangely enough, preserving some ' taste of his once 
quality,' and not altogether destitute of the graces of the 
land he sprung from — curious and incongruous elements 
to make up society, and worthy of the presidency of that 
greater incongruity who ruled them. 

Condemned to eat food they did not relish, and discuss 
themes they did not comprehend — what a noble zeal was 
theirs ! What sacrifices did they not make to the genius of 
' gentility ! ' If they would sneer at a hash, Mrs. D.'s magic 
wand charmed it into a ragout ; when they almost 
sneezed at the sour wine, Mrs. D. called for another glass 
of La Rose. Rabbits, they were assured, were the daily 
diet of the Duke of Devonshire, and Lady Laddington ate 
kid every day at dinner. In the same way potatoes were 
vulgar things, but pommes de terre a la maitre dhotel 
were a delicacy for royalty. 

To support these delusions of diet, I was everlastingly 
referred to. ' Cregan,' would she say — placing her glass 
to her eye, and fixing on some dish, every portion of which 



CON CREGAN 205 

her own dainty fingers had compounded — 'Cregan, what 
is that ? ' 

' Poulet a la George quatre, madame ! ' — she always per- 
mitted me to improvise the nomenclature — 'the receipt 
came from the Bishop of Beldoff's cook.' 

' Ah ! prepared with olives, I believe ? ' 

' Exactly, madame,' would I say, presenting the dish, 
whose success was at once assured. 

If a wry face, or an unhappy contortion of the mouth 
from any guest, announced disappointment, Mrs. D. at 
once appealed to me for the explanation. 'What is it, 
Cregan — Mrs. Blotter, I fear you don't like that plat ? ' 

' The truffles were rather old, madame ' ; or, ' the ancho- 
vies were too fresh ' ; or, ' there was too little caviare,' or 
something of the kind, I would unhesitatingly aver ; for my 
head was stocked with a strong catalogue from an old 
French cookery-book which I used to study each morning. 
The more abstruse my explanation, the more certain of its 
being endorsed by the company — only too happy to be sup- 
posed capable of detecting the subtle deficiency; all but 
the old French Deputy, who on such occasions would give 
a little shake of his narrow head, and mutter to himself, 
' Ah ; il est mutin, ce gaillard-la ! ' 

Under the influence of great names, they would have 
eaten a stewed mummy from the Pyramids. What the 
Marquis of Asheldown or the Earl of Brockmore in- 
variably ordered, could not without risk be despised by 
these ' small boys ' of refinement. It is true, they often 
mourned in secret over the altered taste of the old country, 
which preferred kickshaws and trumpery to its hallowed 
ribs and sirloins ; but, like the folk who sit at the Opera 
while they long for the Haymarket, and who listen to 
Jenny Lind while their hearts are with Mrs. Keeley, they 
' took out ' in fashion what they lost in amusement — a 
very English habit, by the way. To be sure, and to their 
honour be it spoken, they wished the Queen would be 
pleased to fancy legs of mutton and loins of veal, just as 



206 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

some others are eager for royalty to enjoy the national 
drama ; but they innocently forgot the while, that ' they ' 
might have the sirloin, and ' the others ' Shakespeare, even 
without majesty partaking of either, and that a roast 
goose and Falstaff can be relished even without such 
august precedent. Dear, good souls they were, never 
deviating from that fine old sturdy spirit of independ- 
ence which makes us feel ourselves a match for the whole 
world in arms, as we read the Times, and hum ' Rule 
Britannia.' 

All this devout homage of a class with whom they had 
nothing in common, and with which they could never 
come into contact, produced in me a very strange result ; 
and in place of being ready to smile at the imitators, I 
began to conceive a stupendous idea of the natural great- 
ness of those who could so impress the ranks beneath 
them. 'Con,' said I to myself, 'that is the class in life 
would suit you perfectly. There is no trade like that of 
a gentleman. He who does nothing is always ready for 
everything ; the little shifts and straits of a handicraft or 
a profession narrow and confine the natural expansiveness 
of the intellect, which, like a tide over a flat shore, should 
swell and spread itself out, free and without effort. See 
to this, Master Con ; take care that you don't sit down 
contented with a low round on the ladder of life, but strive 
ever upwards ; depend on it, the view is best from the top, 
even if it only enable you to look down on your competitors.' 

These imaginings, as might be easily imagined, led me 
to form a very depreciating estimate of my lords and 
masters of the ' establishment.' Not only their little 
foibles and weaknesses, their small pretensions and their 
petty attempts at fine life, were all palpable to my eyes, 
but their humble fortunes and narrow means to support 
such assumption were equally so ; and there is nothing 
which a vulgar mind — I tvas vulgar at that period — so 
unhesitatingly seizes on for sarcasm, as the endeavour of 
a poor man to ' do the fine gentleman.' 



CON CREGAN 207 

If no man is a hero to his valet, he who has no valet is 
never a hero at all — is nobody. I conceived, then, the most 
insulting contempt for the company, on whom I practised 
a hundred petty devices of annoyance. I would drop 
gravy on a fine satin dress, in which the wearer only 
made her appearance at festivals, or stain with sauce the 
' russia ducks ' destined to figure through half a week. 
Sometimes, by an adroit change of decanters during 
dinner, I would produce a scene of almost irremediable 
confusion, when the owner of sherry would find himself 
taking toast-and-water, he of the last beverage having 
improved the time and finished the racier liquid. Such 
reciprocities, although strictly in accordance with 'free- 
trade,' invariably led to very warm discussions, that lasted 
through the remainder of the evening. 

Then I removed plates ere the eater was satisfied, and 
that with an air of such imposing resolve as to silence 
remonstrance. When a stingy guest passed up his 
decanter to a friend, in a moment of enthusiastic muni- 
ficence, I never suffered it to return till it was emptied ; 
while to the elderly ladies I measured out the wine like 
laudanum; every now and then, too, I would forget to 
hand the dish to some one or other of the company, and 
affect only to discover my error as the last spoonful was 
disappearing. 

Nor did my liberties end here. I was constantly intro- 
ducing innovations in the order of dinner that produced 
most ludicrous scenes of discomfiture — now insisting on 
the use of a fork, now of a spoon, under circumstances 
where no adroitness could compensate for the implement ; 
and one day I actually went so far as to introduce soap 
with the finger-glasses, averring that ' it was always done 
at Devonshire House on grand occasions.' I thought I 
should have betrayed myself, as I saw the efforts of the 
party to perform their parts with suitable dignity ; all I 
could do was to restrain a burst of open laughter. 

So long as I prosecuted my reforms on the actual staff 



208 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

of the establishment, all went well. Now and then, it is 
true, I used to overhear in French, of which they believed 
me to be ignorant, rather sharp comments on the ' free- 
and-easy tone of my manners — how careless I had become,' 
and so on ; complaints, however, sure to be met by some 
assurance that 'my manners were quite London' — that 
what I did was the type of fashionable servitude ; 
apologies made less to screen me than to exalt those 
who invented them, as thoroughly conversant with high 
life in England. 

At last, partly from being careless of consequences, for 
I was getting very weary of this kind of life — the great 
amusement of which used to be repeating my perform- 
ances for the ear of Captain Pike, and he was now 
removed with his regiment to Kingston — and partly 
wishing for some incidents, of what kind I cared not, that 
might break the monotony of my existence, I contrived 
one day to stretch my prerogative too far, or, in the 
phrase of the Gulf, ' I harpooned a bottlenose ' — the peri- 
phrasis for making a gross mistake. 

I had been some years at Mrs. Davis's — in fact I felt 
and thought myself a man when the last ball of the season 
was announced — an entertainment at which usually a 
more crowded assemblage used to congregate than at 
any of the previous ones. 

It was the choice occasion for the habitues of the house 
to invite their grand friends, for Mrs. D. was accustomed 
to put forth all her strength, and the arrangements 
were made on a scale of magnificence that invariably 
occasioned a petty famine for the fortnight before- 
hand. Soup never appeared, that there might be bouillon 
for the dancers ; every one was on a short allowance of 
milk, eggs, and sugar ; meat became almost a tradition : 
even candles waned and went out, in waiting for the 
auspicious night when they should blaze like noonday* 
Nor did the company fail to participate in these pre- 
paratory schoolings* What frightful heads in curl-papers 



CON CREGAN 209 

would appear at breakfast and dinner ! What buttoned-up 
coats and black cravats refuse all investigation on the 
score of linen ! What mysterious cookings of cosmetics 
at midnight, with petty thefts of lard and thick cream ! 
What washings of kid gloves, that when washed would 
never go on again ! What inventions of French-polish 
that refused all persuasions to dry, but continued to stick 
to and paint everything it came in contact with! Then 
there were high dresses to be cut down, like frigates 
razeed ; frock-coats reduced to dress ones ; mock lace and 
false jewellery were at a premium ; and all the little patch- 
work devices of ribbons, bows, and carnations, gimp, gauze, 
and geraniums, were put into requisition, petty acts of 
deception that each saw through in her neighbour, but 
firmly believed were undetectable in herself. 

Then what caballings about the invited ! what scrutiny 
into rank and station — { what set they were in,' and whom 
did they visit ; with little Star-chamber inquisitions as to 
character, all breaches of which, it is but fair to state, were 
most charitably deemed remediable if the party had any 
pretension to social position ; for not only the saint in 
crape was twice a saint in lawn, but the satin sinner was 
pardonable, where the ' washing silk ' would have been 
found guilty without a ' recommendation.' 

Then there was eternal tuning of the pianoforte, which 
most perversely insisted on not suiting voices that might 
have sung duets with a peacock. Quadrilles were practised 
in empty rooms ; and Miss Timmock was actually seen 
trying to teach Blotter to waltz — a proceeding, I rejoice 
to say, that the moral feeling of the household at once 
suppressed. And then, what a scene of decoration went 
forward in all the apartments ! As in certain benevolent 
families, whatever is uneatable is always given to the 
poor, so here, all the artificial flowers unavailable for 
the toilette were generously bestowed to festoon along the 
walls to conceal tin sconces, and to wreathe round rickety 
chandeliers. Contrivance — that most belauded pheno- 
13 o 



210 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

menon in Nature's craft — was everywhere. If necessity- 
be the mother of invention, poor gentility is the 'step- 
mother.' Never were made greater efforts, or greater 
sacrifices incurred, to make Mrs. D. appear like a West-end 
leader of fashion, and to make the establishment itself 
seem a Holderness House. 

As for me, I was the type of a stage servant — one of 
those creatures who hand round coffee in the School for 
Scandal. My silk stockings were embroidered with silver, 
and my showy coat displayed a bouquet that might have 
filled a vase. 

In addition to these personal graces, I had long been 
head of my department; all the other officials, from the 
negro knife - cleaner upwards, besides all those begged, 
borrowed, and I believe I might add, stolen domestics of 
other families, being placed under my orders. 

Among the many functions committed to me, the 
drilling of these gentry stood first in difficulty, not only 
because they were rebellious under control, but because I 
had actually to invent ' the discipline during parade.' One 
golden rule, however, I had adopted, and never suffered 
myself to deviate from, viz., to do nothing as it had been 
done before — a maxim which relieved me from all the 
consequences of inexperience. Traditions are fatal things 
for a radical reformer ; and I remembered having heard it 
remarked how Napoleon himself first sacrificed his dignity 
by attempting an imitation of the monarchy. By this one 
precept I ruled and squared all my conduct. 

The most refractory of my subordinates was a jackanapes 
about my own age, who, having once waited on the ' young 
gentlemen ' in the cockpit of a man-of-war, fancied he had 
acquired very extended views of life. Among other traits 
of his fashionable experience, he remembered that at a 
dejeuner given by the officers at Cadiz once, the company, 
who breakfasted in the gun-room, had all left their hats 
and cloaks in the midshipman's berth, receiving each a 
small piece of card with a number on it, and a similar one 



CON CREGAN 211 

being attached to the property — a process so universal 
now in our theatres and assemblies, that I ask pardon for 
particularly describing it ; but it was a novelty at the time 
I speak of, and had all the merits of a new discovery. 

Smush — this was my deputy's name — had been so struck 
with the admirable success of the arrangement, that he 
had actually preserved the pieces of card, and now pro- 
duced them, black and ragged, from the recesses of his 
trunk. 

1 Mr. Cregan ' — such was the respectful title by which I 
was now always addressed — ' Mr. Cregan can tell us,' said 
he, ' if this is not the custom at great balls in London.' 

' It used to be so, formerly,' said I, with an air of most 
consummate coolness, as I sat in an arm-chair, regaling 
myself with a cigar ; ' the practice you allude to, Smush, 
did prevail, I admit. But our fashionable laws change; 
one day it is all ultra-refinement and Sybarite luxury — 
the next, they affect a degree of mock simplicity in their 
manners : anything for novelty ! Now, for instance, eating 
fish with the fingers ' 

' Do they, indeed, go so far ? ' 

' Do they ! ay, and fifty things worse. At a race-dinner 
the same silver cup goes round the table, drunk out of by 
every one — I have seen strange things in my time.' 

' That you must, Mr. Cregan.' 

' Latterly,' said I, warming with my subject, and seeing 
my auditory ready to believe anything, 'they began the 
same system with the soup, and always passed the tureen 
round, each tasting it as it went. This was an innovation 
of the Duke of Struttenham's, but I don't fancy it will last.' 

' And how do they manage about the hats, Mr. Cregan ? ' 

' The last thing, in that way, was what I saw at Lord 
Mudbrooke's, at Richmond, where, not to hamper the guests 
with these foolish bits of card, which they were always 
losing, the servant in waiting chalked a number on the 
hat or coat, or whatever it might be, and then marked the 
same on the gentleman's back ! ' 



212 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

Had it not been for the imposing gravity of my 
manner, the absurdity of this suggestion had been at 
once apparent ; but I spoke like an oracle, and I impressed 
my words with the simple gravity of a commonplace truth, 

' If you wish to do the very newest thing, Smush, that 's 
the latest ; quite a fresh touch : and, I '11 venture to say, 
perfectly unknown here. It saves a world of trouble to 
all parties ; and as you brush it off, before they leave, it 
is always another claim for the parting douceur ! ' 

' 1 11 do it,' said Smush eagerly ; ' they cannot be 
angry ' 

' Angry ! angry at what is done with the very first 
people in London!' said I, affecting horror at the bare 
thought. The train was now laid ; I had only to wait for 
its explosion. At first, I did this with eager impatience 
for the result ; then, as the time drew near, with somewhat 
of anxiety ; and, at last, with downright fear of the conse- 
quences. Yet to revoke the order, to confess that I was 
only hoaxing on so solemn a subject, would have been the 
downfall of my ascendency for ever. What was to be done ? 

I could imagine but one escape from the difficulty ; 
which was to provide myself with a clothes-brush, and as 
my station was at the drawing-room door, to erase the 
numerals before their wearers entered. In this way I 
should escape the forfeiture of my credit, and the risk 
of maintaining it. 

I would willingly recall some of the strange incidents 
of that great occasion, but my mind can only dwell upon 
one, as, brush in hand, I asked permission to remove some 
accidental dust — a leave most graciously accorded, and 
ascribed to my town-bred habits of attention. At last — it 
was nigh midnight, and for above an hour the company 
had received no accession to its ranks; quadrilles had 
succeeded quadrilles, and the business of the scene went 
swimmingly on — all the time-honoured events of similar 
assemblages happening with that rigid regularity which, 
if evening parties were managed by steam, and regulated 



CON CREGAN 213 

by a fly -wheel, could not proceed with more ordinary 
routine. ' Heads of houses ' with bald scalps led out 
simpering young boarding-school misses, and danced with 
a noble show of agility, to refute any latent suspicion of 
coming age. There were the usual number of very old 
people, who vowed the dancing was only a shuffling walk, 
not the merry movement they had practised half a century 
ago ; and there were lackadaisical young gentlemen, with 
waistcoats variegated as a hearth-rug, and magnificent 
breast-pins — like miniature pokers — who lounged and 
lolled about, as though youth were the most embarrassing 
and wearying infliction mortality was heir to. 

There were, besides, all the varieties of the class, young 
lady — as seen in every land where muslin is sold and white 
shoes are manufactured. There was the slight young lady, 
who floated about with her gauzy dress daintily pinched in 
two ; then there was the short and dumpling young lady, 
who danced with a duck in her gait; and there were a 
large proportion of the flouncing, flaunting kind, who 
took the figures of the quadrille by storm, and went at the 
' right and left ' as if they were escaping from a fire : 
and there was Mrs. Davis herself, in a spangled toque and 
red shoes, pottering about from place to place, with a 
terrible eagerness to be agreeable and fashionable at the 
same time. 

It was, I have said, nigh midnight, as I stood at the 
half-open door, watching the animated and amusing scene 
within, when Mrs. Davis, catching sight of me, and doubt- 
less for the purpose of displaying my specious livery, 
ordered me to open a window, or close a shutter, 
or something of like importance. I had scarcely per- 
formed the service, when a kind of half titter through 
the room made me look round, and, to my unspeakable 
horror, I beheld, in the centre of the room, Town-Major 
M'Can, the most passionate little man in Quebec, making 
his obeisances to Mrs. Davis, while a circle around were, 
with handkerchiefs to their mouths, stifling as they best 



214 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

could a burst of laughter ; since exactly between his 
shoulders, in marks of about four inches long, stood the 
numerals ' 158,' a great flourish underneath proclaiming 
that the roll had probably concluded, and that this was 
the • last man.' 

Of the major, tradition had already consecrated one 
exploit; he had once kicked an impertinent tradesman 
down the great flight of iron stairs which leads from the 
Upper Town to Diamond Harbour — a feat, to appreciate 
which, it is necessary to bear in mind that the stair in 
question is almost perpendicular, and contains six hundred 
and forty-eight steps! My very back ached by anticipa- 
tion as I thought of it; and as I retreated towards the 
door, it was in a kind of shuffle, feeling like one who had 
been well thrashed. 

' A large party, Mrs. D. ; a very brilliant and crowded 
assembly,' said the major, pulling out his bushy whiskers, 
and looking importantly around. 'Now what number 
have you here ? ' 

' I cannot even guess, major ; but we have had very few 
apologies. Could you approximate to our numbers this 
evening, Mr. Cox?' said she, addressing a spiteful-looking old 
man, who sat eyeing the company through an opera-glass. 

' I have counted one hundred and thirty-four, madam ; 
but the major makes them more numerous still ! ' 

' How do you mean, Cox ? ' said he, getting fiery red. 

' If you 11 look in that glass yonder, which is opposite 
the mirror, you'll soon see!' wheezed out the old man 
maliciously. I did not wait for more; with one spring 
I descended the first flight; another brought me to the 
hall ; but not before a terrible shout of laughter apprised 
me that all was discovered. I had just time to open the 
clock-case, and step into it, as Major M'Can came thunder- 
ing downstairs, with his coat on his arm. 

A shrill yell from Sambo now told me that one culprit 
at least was 'up' for punishment. 'Tell the truth, you 
d d piece of carved ebony ! who did this ? ' 



CON CREGAN 215 

' Not me, massa ! not me, massa ! Smush did him ! ' 

Smush was at this instant emerging from the back- 
parlour with a tray of coloured fluids for the dancers. 
With one vigorous kick the major sent the whole flying ; 
and ere the terrified servitor knew "what the assault 
portended, a strong grasp caught him by the throat, and 
ran him up bang! against the clock-case. Oh, what a 
terrible moment was that for me ! I heard the very 
gurgling rattle in his throat, like choking, and felt as if 
when he ceased to breathe that I should expire with him. 

' You confess it ! you own it, then, you infernal rascal ! ' 
said the major, almost hoarse with rage. 

' Oh, forgive me, sir ! oh, forgive me ! It was Mr. 

Cregan, sir, the butler, who told me ! Oh dear, I 'm ' 

what, he couldn't finish ; for the major, in relinquishing 
his grasp, flung him backwards, and he fell against the 
stairs. 

'So it was Mr. — Cregan — the — butler — was it?' said 
the major, with an emphasis on each word, as though he 
had bitten the syllables. 'Well! as sure as my name is 
Tony M'Can, Mr. Cregan shall pay for this ! Turn about 
is fair-play ; you have marked me, and may I be drummer 
to the Cape Fencibles if I don't mark you ! ' and -with this 
denunciation, uttered in a tone, every accent of which 
vouched for truth, he took a hat — the first next to him — 
and issued from the house. 

Shivering with terror — and not without cause — I waited 
till Smush had, with Sambo's aid, carried downstairs the 
broken fragments ; and then, the coast being clear, I 
stepped from my hiding-place, and opening the hall door, 
fled — ay, ran as fast as my legs could carry me. I crossed 
the grass terrace in front of the barrack, not heeding 
the hoarse ' Who goes there ? ' of the sentry ; and then, 
dashing along the battery-wall, hastened down the stairs 
that lead in successive flights to the filthy Lower Town, in 
whose dingy recesses I well knew that crime or shame 
could soon find a sanctuary. 




AN EMIGRANT'S FIRST STEP 
'ON SHORE' 

F I say that the Lower Town of 
Quebec is the St. Giles's of the 
metropolis, I convey but a very 
faint notion indeed of that terrible locality. I have seen 
life in some of its least attractive situations. I am not 
ignorant of the Liberties of Dublin and the Claddagh of 
Galway ; I have passed more time than I care to mention 
in the Isle St. Louis of Paris ; while the Leopoldstadt of 
Vienna, and the Ghetto of Rome, are tolerably familiar 
to me ; but still, for wickedness in its most unwashed 
state, I give the palm to the Lower Town of Quebec. 

The population, originally French, became gradually 
intermixed with emigrants, most of whom came from 
Ireland, and who, having expended the little means they 
could scrape together for the voyage, firmly believing that 
once landed in America, gold was a chimera not worth 
troubling one's head about — they were unable to go 
farther, and either became labourers in the city, or, as 
the market grew speedily overstocked, sank down into 



THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 217 

a state of pauperism, the very counterpart of that they 
had left on the other side of the ocean. Their turbulence, 
their drunkenness, the reckless violence of all their habits, 
at first shocked and then terrified the poor timid 
Canadians — of all people the most submissive and yield- 
ing — so that very soon, feeling how impossible it was 
to maintain copartnery with such associates, they left 
the neighbourhood, and abandoned the field to the new 
race. Intermarriages had, however, taken place to a great 
extent ; from which, and the daily intercourse with the 
natives, a species of language came to be spoken which 
was currently called French; but which might, certainly 
with equal propriety, be called Cherokee. Of course this 
new tongue modified itself with the exigencies of those 
who spoke it ; and as the French ingredient declined, the 
Milesian preponderated, till at length it became far more 
Irish than French. 

Nothing assists barbarism like a dialect adapted to its 
own wants. Slang is infinitely more conducive to the 
propagation of vice than is generally believed ; it is the 
' paper currency ' of iniquity, and each man issues as much 
as he likes. If I wanted an evidence of this fact I should 
'call up' the place I am speaking of, where the very 
jargon at once defied civilisation, and ignored the 
' schoolmaster.' The authorities, either regarding the 
task as too hopeless, or too dangerous, or too trouble- 
some, seemed to slur over the existence of this infamous 
locality. It is not impossible that they saw with some 
satisfaction that wickedness had selected its only peculiar 
and appropriate territory, and that they had left this 
den of vice, as Yankee farmers are accustomed to leave 
a spot of tall grass to attract the snakes, by way of 
preventing them scattering and spreading over a larger 
surface. 

As each emigrant ship arrived, hosts of these idlers 
of the Lower Town beset the newly landed strangers, 
and by their voice and accent imposed upon the poor 



218 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

wanderers. The very tones of the old country were a 
magic the new-comers could not withstand, after weeks 
of voyaging that seemed like years of travel. Whatever 
reminded them of the country they had quitted, ay — 
strange inconsistency of the human heart! — of the land 
they had left for very hopelessness, touched their hearts, 
and moved them to the very tenderest emotions. To 
trade on this susceptibility became a recognised livelihood; 
so that the quays were crowded with idle vagabonds, who 
sought out the prey with as much skill as a West-end 
waiter displays in detecting the rank of a new arrival. 

This filthy locality, too, contained all the lodging-houses 
resorted to by the emigrants, who were easily persuaded 
to follow their 'countryman' wherever he might lead. 
Here were spent the days — sometimes, unhappily, the 
weeks — before they could fix upon the part of the country 
to which they should bend their steps ; and here, but too 
often, were wasted in excess and debauchery the little 
hoards that had cost years to accumulate, till farther 
progress became impossible ; and the stranger who landed 
but a few weeks back, full of strong hope, sank down into 
the degraded condition of those who had been his ruin — 
the old story, the dupe become blackleg. 

It were well if deceit and falsehood — if heartless 
treachery and calculating baseness, were all that went 
forward here. But not so; crimes of every character 
were rife also, and not an inhabitant of the city, with 
money or character, would have, for any consideration, 
put foot within this district after nightfall. The very 
cries that broke upon the stillness of the night were often 
heard in the Upper Town; and whenever a shriek of 
agony arose, or the heart-rending cry for help, prudent 
citizens would close the window and say, ' It is some of the 
people in the Lower Town' — a comprehensive statement 
that needed no commentary. 

Towards this pleasant locality I now hastened, with a 
kind of instinctive sense that I had some claims on the 



CON CREGAN 219 

sanctuary. It chanced that an emigrant ship which had 
arrived that evening was just disembarking its passengers ; 
mingling with the throng of which, I entered the filthy 
and narrow lanes of this Alsatia. The new arrivals were 
all Irish, and, as usual, were heralded by parties of the 
resident population, eagerly canvassing them for this or 
that lodging-house. Had not my own troubles been 
enough for me, I should have felt interested in the strange 
contrast between the simple peasant first stepping on a 
foreign shore, and the shrewd roguery of him who pro- 
posed guidance, and who doubtless had himself once been 
as unsuspecting and artless as those he now cajoled and 
endeavoured to dupe. 

I soon saw that single individuals were accounted of 
little consequence ; the claim of the various lodging-houses 
was as family hotels, perhaps ; so that I mixed myself up 
with a group of some eight or ten, whose voices sounded 
pleasantly, for, in the dark, I had no other indication to 
suggest a preference. 

I was not long in establishing a footing, so far as 
talking went, with one of this party — an old, very old man, 
whose greatest anxiety was to know, first, if ' there was 
any Injuns where we were going ? ' and secondly, if I had 
ever heard of his grandson, Dan Cullinane? The first 
doubt I solved for him frankly and freely, that an Indian 
wouldn't dare to show his nose where we were walking; 
and as to the second, I hesitated, promising to refer to 
' my tablets ' when I came to the light, for I thought the 
name was familiar to me. 

' He was a shoemaker by trade,' said the old man, ' and 
a better never left Ireland ; he was 'prentice to ould Finu- 
cane in Ennis, and might have done well, if he hadn't the 
turn for Americay.' 

' But he '11 do better here, rely upon it,' said I, inviting 
some further disclosures ; ' I 'm certain he 's not disap- 
pointed with having come out.' 

'No, indeed; glory be to God! he's doing finely; and 



220 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

'twas that persuaded my son Joe to sell the little place 
and come here — and a wonderful long way it is ! ' 

After expending a few generalities on sea voyages in 
general, with a cursory glance at naval architecture, from 
Noah's ' square ' stern, down to the modern ' round ' inno- 
vation, we again returned to Dan, for whom I already 
conceived a strong interest. 

' And is it far to New Orleans from this ? ' said the old 
man, who, I perceived, was struck by the air of sagacity in 
my discourse. 

'New Orleans! why, that's in the States, a thousand 
miles away ! ' 

' Oh ! murther, murther ! ' cried the old fellow, wringing 
his hands ; ' and ain't we in the States ? ' 

' No,' said I ; ' this is Canada.' 

'Joe! Joe!' cried he, pulling his son by the collar, 
' listen to this, acushla. Oh, murther, murther ! we 're 
kilt and destroyed intirely ! ' 

' What is it, father ? ' said a tall, powerfully-built man, 
who spoke in a low but resolute voice ; ' what ails you ? ' 

' Tell him, darlint — tell him ! ' said the old man, not able 
to utter his griefs. 

• It seems,' said I, ' that you believed yourselves in the 
States; now this is not so. This is British America — 
Lower Canada.' 

' Isn't it " Quaybec ? " ' said he, standing full in front 
of me. 

' It is Quebec ; but still that is Canada.' 

' And it 's ten thousand miles from Dan ! ' said the old 
fellow, whose cries were almost suffocating him. 

' Whisht, father, and let me talk,' said the son ; ' do you 
know New Orleans ? ' 

' Perfectly — every street of it,' said I, with an effrontery 
the darkness aided considerably. 

' And how far is 't from here ? ' 

' Something like thirteen or fourteen hundred miles, at 
a rough guess.' 



CON CREGAN 221 

' Oh, th' eternal villain ! if I had him by the neck ! ' cried 
Joe, as he struck the ground a blow with his blackthorn 
which certainly would not have improved the human face 
divine ; ' he towld me they were a few miles asunder — an 
easy day's walk ! ' 

' Who said so ? ' asked I. 

' The chap on Eden Quay, in Dublin, where we took our 
passage.' 

' Don't be down-hearted anyway,' said I ; ' distance is 
nothing here ; we think no more of a hundred miles than 
you do in Ireland of a walk before breakfast. If it 's any 
comfort to you, I'm going the same way myself.' This 
very consolatory assurance, which I learned then for the 
first time also, did not appear to give the full confidence I 
expected, for Joe made no answer, but, with head dropped 
and clasped hands, continued to mutter some words in 
Irish, that, so far as sound went, had not the ' clink ' of 
blessings. 

• He knows Dan,' said the old man to his son, in a 
whisper, which, low as it was, my quick ears detected. 

'What does he know about him?' exclaimed the son 
savagely ; for the memory of one deception was too strong 
upon him to make him lightly credulous. 

' I knew a very smart young man — a very promising 
young fellow indeed, at New Orleans,' said I, ' of the name 
you speak of — Dan Cullinane.' 

' What part of Ireland did he come from ? ' asked Joe. 

'The man I mean was from Clare, somewhere in the 
neighbourhood of Ennis.' 

' That 's it ! ' said the old man. 

' Whisht ! ' said the son, whose caution was not so easily 
satisfied ; and turning to me, added, ' What was he by 
trade ? ' 

' He was a shoemaker, and an excellent one; indeed, I 've 
no hesitation in saying, one of the best in New Orleans.' 

' What was the street he lived in ? ' 

Here was a puzzler ! for, as my reader knows, I was at 



222 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

the end of my information, and had not the slightest 
knowledge of New Orleans or its localities. The little 
scrap of newspaper I had picked up on Anticosti was the 
only thing having any reference to that city I ever 
possessed in my life. But, true to my theory, to let 
nothing go to loss, I remembered this now, and with an 
easy confidence said, ' I cannot recall the street, but it is 
just as you turn out of the street where the Picayune 
newspaper-office stands.' 

' Right ! — all right, by the father of Moses ! ' cried Joe, 
stretching out a brawny hand, and shaking mine with the 
cordiality of friendship. Then stepping forward to where 
the rest of the party were walking with two most loqua- 
cious guides, he said, 'Molly! here's a boy knows Dan! 
Biddy ! come here, and hear about Dan ! ' 

Two young girls, in long cloth cloaks, turned hastily 
round, and drew near, as they exclaimed in a breath, ' Oh, 
tell us about Dan, sir ! ' 

''Tis betther wait till we're in a house,' said the old 
man, who was, however greedy for news, not a little 
desirous of a fire and something to eat. ' Sure you '11 
come with us, and take yer share of what's going,' said 
he to me ; an invitation which, ere I could reply to, was 
reiterated by the whole party. 

1 Do you know where we 're going here ? ' asked Joe of 
me, as we continued our way through mazes of gloomy 
lanes that grew gradually less and less frequented. 

' No,' said I, in a whisper, ' but 'tis best be on our guard 
here — we are in a bad neighbourhood.' 

' Well, there 's three boys there,' said he, pointing to his 
sons, who walked in front, ' that will pay for all they get. 
Will you ax the fellows how far we 're to go yet, for they 
don't mind me.' 

' Are we near this same lodging-house ? ' said I bluntly 
to the guides, and using French, to show that I was no 
unfledged arrival from beyond the seas. 

' Ahi ! ' cried one, ' a gaillard from the battery.' 



CON CREGAN 223 

' Where from, a la gueule de loup, young mounseer ? ' 
said the other, familiarly catching me by the lapel of my 
coat. 

' Because I am not afraid of his teeth,' said I, with an 
easy effrontery my heart gave a flat lie to. 

' Vrai ? ' said he, with a laugh of horrible meaning. 

' Vrai ! ' repeated I, with a sinking courage, but a very 
bold voice. 

' I wish we were in better company,' whispered I to 
Joe ; ' what directions did you give these fellows ? ' 

' To show us the best lodging-house for the night, and 
that we 'd pay well for it.' 

' Ah ! ' thought I, ' that explains something.' 

' Here we are, mounseers,' said one, as, stopping at the 
door of a two-storeyed house, he knocked with his knuckles 
on the panel. 

'Nous fillons, slick, en suite, here,' said the other, 
holding out his hand. 

' They are going ! ' whispered I ; ' they want to be paid, 
and we are well rid of them.' 

' It would be manners to wait and see if they '11 let us 
in,' said Joe, who did not fancy this summary departure, 
while he fumbled in his pocket for a suitable coin. 

' Vite ! — quick ! — sharp time ! ' cried one of the fellows, 
who, as the sound of voices was heard from within, seemed 
impatient to be off ; and so, snatching rather than taking 
the shilling which still lingered in Joe's reluctant fingers, 
he wheeled about and fled, followed rapidly by the other. 

' Qui va ! ' cried a sharp voice from within, as I knocked 
for the second time on the door-panel with a stone. 

' Friends,' said I ; ' we want a lodging and something 
to eat.' 

The door was at once opened, and, by the light of a 
lantern, we saw the figure of an old woman, whose eyes, 
bleared and bloodshot, glared at us fixedly. 

' 'Tis a lodgen' yez want ? ' said she, in an accent that 
showed her to be Irish. ' And who brought yez here ? ' 



224 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

f Two young fellows we met on the quay,' said Joe ; 
' one called the other " Tony." ' 

' Ay, indeed ! ' muttered the hag ; ' I was sure of it ; his 
own son ! his own son ! ' 

These words she repeated in a tone of profound sorrow, 
and for a time seemed quite unmindful of our presence. 

' Are we to get in at all ? ' said the old man, in an accent 
of impatience. 

' What a hurry yer in ; and maybe 'tis wishing yerself 
out again ye 'd be, after ye wor in ! ' 

' I think we 'd better try somewhere else,' whispered Joe 
to me ; ' I don't like the look of this place.' Before I could 
reply to this, a loud yell burst forth from the end of the 
street, accompanied by the tramp of many people, who 
seemed to move in a kind of regulated step. 

' Here they are ! Here they come ! ' cried the old 
woman ; ' step in quick, or ye '11 be too late ! ' and she 
dragged the young girls forward by the cloak, into the 
hall ; we followed without further question. Then placing 
the lantern on the floor, she drew a heavy chain across the 
door, and dropped her cloak over the light, saying in a low, 
tremulous voice, ' Them 's the " Tapageers ! " ' 

The crowd now came closer, and we perceived that 
they were singing in chorus a song, of which the air at 
least was Irish. 

The barbarous rhyme of one rude verse, as they sung it 
in passing, still lingers in my memory : 

' No bloody agent here we see 

Ready to rack, distrain, and saze us, 
Whate'er we ax, we have it free, 

And take at hand, whatever plaze us. 
Tow, row, row, 
Will yez show me now, 
The polls that '11 dare to face ns ! ' 

• There they go ! 'tis well ye wor safe ! ' said the old hag, 
as the sounds died away, and all became silent in the 
street without. 



CON CREGAN 225 

'Who, or what are they?' said I; my curiosity being 
stimulated by fear. 

' Them 's the " Tapageers ! " The chaps that never 
spared man or woman in their rounds. 'Tis bad enough, 
the place is ; but they make it far worse ! ' 

' Can we stop here for the night ? ' said Joe, growing 
impatient at the colloquy. 

' And what for wud ye stop here ? ' asked the crone, as 
she held up the lantern the better to see him who made 
the demand. 

'We want our supper, and a place to sleep,' said the 
old man ; ' and we 're able and willin' to pay for both.' 

' 'Tis a nice place ye kem for either ! ' said she ; and she 
leaned back against the wall, and laughed with a fiend- 
like malice, that made my blood chill. 

4 Then I suppose we must go somewhere else,' said Joe ; 
' come, boys, 'tis no use losing our time here ! ' 

' God speed you ! ' said she, preparing to undo the chain 
that fastened the door. ' Ye have bould hearts, anyway ! 
There they go ! d' ye hear them ? ' This was said in a half- 
whisper, as the wild yells of the ' Tapageers ' arose 
without ; and soon after, the noise and tumult of a scuffle ; 
at least we could hear the crashing of sticks, and the 
shouting of a fray; from which, too, piercing cries for 
help burst forth. 

'What are ye doin'? are ye mad? are ye out of your 
sinses ? ' cried the hag, as Joe endeavoured to wrest open 
the chain — the secret of which he did not understand. 

'They're murdering some one without there ! ' said he. 
' Let me free, or 1 11 kick down your old door, this minute ! ' 

' Kick away, honey ! ' said the hag ; ' as strong men as 
yourself tried that a'ready ; and d' ye hear, it 's done now ! 
it 's over ! ' These terrible words were in allusion to a low 
kind of sobbing sound, which grew fainter and fainter, 
and then ceased altogether. 

' They 're taking the body away,' whispered she, after a 
pause of deathlike stillness. 
13 p 



226 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

' Where to ? ' said I, half breathless with terror. 

' To the river ! the stream runs fast, and the corpse 
will be down below Goose Island — ay, in the Gulf, 'fore 
morning ! ' 

The two young girls, unable longer to control their 
feelings, here burst out a-crying ; and the old man, pulling 
out a rosary, turned to the wall, and began his prayers. 

' 'Tis a bloody place ; glory be to God ! ' said Joe, at last, 
with a sigh, and clasped his hands before him, like one 
unable to decide on what course to follow. 

I saw, now, that all were so paralysed by fear, that it 
devolved upon me to act for the rest ; so, summoning my 
best courage, I said, ' Will you allow us to stay here for 
the night ? since we are strangers, and do not know where 
to seek shelter.' She shook her head, not so much with 
the air of refusing my request, as to convey that I had 
asked for something scarce worth the granting. 

' We only want a shelter for the night ' . 

' And a bit to eat,' broke in the old man, turning round 
from his prayers. ' Sanctificatur in sec'la — if it was only a 
bit of belly bacon, and — Tower of Ivory, pray for us — with 
a pot of praties, and — House of Gold ' 

' Is he a friar ? ' said the hag to me eagerly ; { does he 
belong to an " ordher ? " ' 

• No,' said I ; 'he 's only a good Catholic' 

She wrung her hands, as if in disappointment ; and 
then, taking up the lantern once more, said, ' Come along ! 
I '11 show yez where ye can stay.' 

We followed, I leading the others, up a narrow and 
rickety stair, between two walls, streaming with damp, 
and patched with mould. When she reached the landing, 
she searched for a moment for a key, which having found, 
she opened the door of a long low room, whose only 
furniture was a deal table and a few chairs ; a candle 
stuck in a bottle, and some drinking-vessels of tin, were 
on the table, and a piece of newspaper containing some 
tobacco. 



CON CREGAN 227 

' There,' said she, lighting the candle ; ' ye may stay 
here ; 'tis all I 'm able to do for yez, is to give ye shelter.' 

' And nothing to eat ? ' ejaculated the old man sorrow- 
fully. 

' Hav'n't you a few potatoes ? ' said Joe. 

'I didn't taste food since yesterday morning,' said the 
hag ; ' and that 's what 's to keep life in me to-morrow ! ' 
and as she spoke she held out a fragment of blackened 
sea-biscuit, such as Russian sailors call ' rusk.' 

' Well, by coorse, there 's no use in talking,' said Joe, 
who always seemed the first to see his way clearly. ' 'Tis 
worse for the girls, for ice can take a draw of the pipe. 
Lucky for us we have it ! ' 

Meanwhile, the two girls had taken off their cloaks, 
and were busy gathering some loose sticks together to 
make a fire, a piece of practical wisdom I at once lent all 
aid to. 

The hag, apparently moved by the ready compliance to 
make the best of matters, went out, and returned with 
some more wood, fragments of ship-timber, which she 
offered us, saying, ' 'Tis all I can give yez. Good-night to 
yez all ! ' 

' Well, father,' said Joe, as soon as he had lighted his 
pipe, and taken a seat by the fire, ' you wor tired enough of 
the ship, but I think you wish yerself back again there 
now.' 

' I wish more nor that,' said the old man querulously ; 
' I wish I never seen the same ship, nor ever left ould 
Ireland ! ' 

This sentiment threw a gloom over the whole party, by 
awakening not only memories of home and that far-away 
land, but also by the confession of a sense of disappoint- 
ment, which each was only able to struggle against while 
unavowed. The sorrow made them silent, and at last 
sleepy. At first the three ' boys,' great fellows of six feet 
high, stretched themselves full length on the floor, and 
snored away in concert ; then the two girls, one with her 



228 THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 

head on the other's lap, fell off ; while the old man, sitting 
directly in front of the fire, nodded backwards and 
forwards, waking up every half-hour or so to light his 
pipe, which done, he immediately fell off into a doze 
once more, leaving Joe and myself alone waking and 
watchful. 






=SfflSFfIE.3WB 



A NIGHT IN THE 'LOWER TOWN' 

OE'S eyes were bent upon me, as I sat 
directly opposite him, with a fixedness 
that I could easily see was occasioned 
by my showy costume; his glances ranged from my buckled 
shoes to my white cravat, adorned with a splendid brooch 
of mock amethyst ; nay, I almost fancied once that he was 
counting the silver clocks on my silk stockings ! It was a 
look of most undisguised astonishment — such a look as 
one bestows upon some new and singular animal, of whose 
habits and instincts we are lost in conjecture. 

Now, I was ' York too ' — that is to say, I was Irish as 
well as himself ; and I well knew that there was no rank 
or condition of man for which the peasant in Ireland 
conceives the same low estimate as the 'livery servant.' 
The class is associated in his mind with chicanery, im- 
pudence, falsehood, theft, and a score of similar good 
properties ; not to add, that being occasionally, in great 



230 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

families, a native of England, the Saxon element is united 
to the other ' bitters ' of the potion. 

Scarcely a tenant could be found that would not 
rather face a mastiff than a footman — such is the pro- 
verbial dislike to these human lilies, who neither toil nor 
spin. Now, I have said I knew this well: I had been 
reared in the knowledge and practice of this and many- 
similar antipathies, so that I at once took counsel with 
myself what I should do to escape from the reproach of a 
mark so indelibly stamped upon me by externals. La 
famille Cullinane suited me admirably — they were pre- 
cisely the kind of people I wanted; my care, therefore, 
was that they should reciprocate the want, and be utterly 
helpless without me. Thus reflecting, I could not help 
saying to myself, how gladly would I have parted with all 
these gauds for a homely, ay, or even a ragged suit of 
native frieze. I remembered the cock on the dunghill, 
who would have given his diamond for one single grain of 
corn ; and I felt that iEsop was a grand political economist. 

From these and similar mental meanderings I was 
brought back by Joe, who, after emptying the ashes 
from his pipe, said, and with a peculiarly dry voice, 
' You 're in service, young man ? ' 

Now, although the words were few, and the speaker did 
not intend that his manner should have given them any 
particular significance, yet the tone, the cautious slowness 
of the enunciation— coupled with the stern, steady stare at 
my ' bravery,' made them tingle on my ears and send the 
blood rushing to my cheeks with shame. It was like a 
sharp prick of the spur ; and so it turned out. 

' In service ! ' said I, with a look of offended dignity. 
' No, I flatter myself not that low yet. What could have 
made you suppose so ? Oh, I see ! ' — here I burst out into 
a very well-assumed laugh ; ' that is excellent, to be sure ! 
ha, ha, ha ! so it was these ' — and I stretched forth my 
embroidered shins — ' it was these deceived you ! and a very 
natural mistake, too. No, my worthy friend; not but, 



CON CREGAN 231 

indeed, I might envy niany in that same ignoble position.' 
I said this with a sudden change of voice, as though over- 
cast by some sad recollection. 

''Twas indeed your dress,' said Joe, with a modest 
deference in his manner, meant to be a full apology for 
his late blunder. ' Maybe 'tis the fashion here.' 

' No, Cullinane,' said I, using a freedom which should 
open the way to our relative future standing; 'no, not 
even that ' ; here I heaved a heavy sigh, and became silent. 
My companion, abashed by his mistake, said nothing ; and 
so we sat without interchanging a word for full five 
minutes. 

' I have had a struggle with myself, Cullinane,' said I 
at last, ' and I have conquered. Ay, I have gained the day 
in a hard-fought battle against my sense of shame. I will 
be frank with you, therefore. In this dress I appeared 
to-night on the boards of the Quebec theatre.' 

' A play-actor ! ' exclaimed Joe, with a face very far 
from expressing any high sense of the histrionic art. 

' Not exactly,' said I, ' only a would-be one. I am a 
gentleman by birth, family, and fortune ; but taking into 
my head, in a foolish hour, that I should like the excite- 
ment of an actor's life, I fled from home, quitted friends, 
relatives, affluence, and ease, to follow a strolling company. 
At another time I may relate to you all the disguises I 
assumed to escape detection. Immense sums were offered 
for my apprehension — why do I say were ? — ay, Cullinane, 
are offered. I will not deceive you. It is in your power 
this instant, by surrendering me to my family, to earn five 
thousand dollars ! ' 

'Do you think I'd be ' 

' No, I do not. In proof of my confidence in you, hear 
my story. We travelled through the States at first by un- 
frequented routes till we reached the north, when gaining 
courage, I ventured to take a high range of characters, 
and, I will own it, with success. At last we came to 
Canada, in which country, although the reward had not 



232 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

been announced, my father had acquainted all the principal 
people with my flight, entreating them to do their utmost 
to dissuade me from a career so far below my rank and 
future prospects. Among others, he wrote to an old friend 
and schoolfellow, the Governor-General, requesting his aid 
in this affair. I was always able, from other sources, to 
learn every step that was taken with this object ; so that 
I not only knew this, but actually possessed a copy of my 
father's letter to Lord Poynder, wherein this passage 
occurred : " Above all things, my dear Poynder, no 
publicity ! no exposure ! remember the position Cornelius 
will one day hold, and let him not be ashamed when he 
may meet you in after-life. If the silly boy can be 
induced, by his own sense of dignity, to abandon this 
unworthy pursuit, so much the better ; but coercion would, 
I fear, give faint hope of eradicating the evil." Now, as I 
perceived that no actual force was to be employed against 
me, I did not hesitate to appear in the part for which the 
bills announced me. Have you ever read Shakespeare ? ' 

' No, sir,' said Joe respectfully. 

' Well, no matter. I was to appear as Hamlet — this 
is the dress of that character — little suspecting, indeed, 
how the applause I was accustomed to receive was to be 
changed. To be brief. In the very centre of the dress- 
circle was the Governor himself ; he came with his whole 
staff, but without any previous intimation. No sooner 
had I made my entrance on the scene — scarcely had I 
begun that magnificent soliloquy, " Show me the thief 
that stole my fame" — when his Excellency commenced 
hissing ! Now, when the Governor-General hisses, all the 
staff hiss ; then the President of the Council and all his 
colleagues hiss ; then comes the bishop and the inferior 
clergy, with the judges and the Attorney-General, and so 
on ; then all the loyal population of the house joined in, 
with the exception of a few in the galleries, that hated the 
British connection, and who cried out, " Three cheers for 
Con Cregan and the independence of Canada!" In this 



CON CREGAN 233 

way went on the first act, groans and yells and catcalls 
overtopping all I tried to say, and screams for the manager 
to come out issuing from every part of the house. At last 
out he did come. This for a while made matters worse : 
so many directions were given, questions asked, and 
demands made, that it was clearly impossible to hear any 
one voice ; and there stood the manager, swinging his 
arms about like an insane telegraph, now running to the 
stage-box at one side, then crossing over to the other, to 
maintain a little private conversation by signs, till the 
sense of the house spoke out by accidentally catching a 
glimpse of me in the side-scenes. 

' " Is it your pleasure, my lords, ladies, and gentlemen, 
that this actor should not appear again before you ? ' 

'"Yes — yes! No — no — no!" were shouted from hundreds 
of voices. 

' " What am I to understand ? " said he, bowing with his 
arms crossed submissively before him ; ' I submit myself 
to your orders. If Mr. Cregan does not meet your appro- 
bation ' 

1 " Throw him into the dock ! — break his neck ! — set him 
adrift on a log down the Gulf -stream ! — chip him up for 
bark ! — burn him for charcoal ! " — and twenty other like 
humane proposals burst forth together ; and so not wait- 
ing to see how far the manager's politeness would carry 
him, I fled from the theatre. Yes, Cullinane, I fled with 
shame and disgust from that fickle public, who applaud 
with ecstasy to-day that they may condemn with infamy 
to-morrow. Nor was I deceived by the vain egotism of 
supposing that / was the object of their ungenerous anger. 
Alas ! my friend, the evil lay deeper — it was my Irish name 
and family they sought to insult! The old grudge that 
they bear us at home, they carry over the seas with 
them. How plain it is ; they never can forgive our 
superiority. It is this they seek revenge upon wherever 
they find us.' 

I own that in giving this peculiar turn to my narrative, 



234 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

I was led by perceiving that my listener had begun to 
show a most lamentable want of sympathy for myself 
and my sufferings, so I was driven to try what a little 
patriotism might do in arousing his feelings; and I was 
right. Some of Cullinane's connections had been Terrys — 
or Blackfeet or Whitefeet, or some one or other of those 
pleasant fraternities who study ball-practice, with a land- 
lord for the bull's-eye. He at once caught up the spirit of 
my remarks, and even quoted some eloquent passages of 
Mr. O'Connell, about the width of our shoulders, and the 
calves of our legs, and other like personal advantages, 
incontestably showing as they do that we never were 
made to be subject to the Saxon. It was the law of the 
land, however, which had his heartiest abhorrence. This, 
like nine-tenths of his own class in Ireland, he regarded 
as a systematic means of oppression, invented by the rich 
to give them the tyrannical dominion over the poor. Nor 
is the belief to be wondered at, considering how cognisant 
the peasant often is of all the schemes and wiles by which 
a conviction is compassed ; nay, the very adroitness of a 
legal defence in criminal cases — the feints, the quips, the 
stratagems — instead of suggesting admiration for those 
barriers by which the life and liberty of a subject is 
protected, only engendered a stronger conviction of the 
roguish character of that ordeal where craft and subtlety 
could do so much. 

It was at the close of a very long diatribe over Irish 
law and lawyers, that Cullinane, whose confidence in- 
creased each moment, said, with a sigh, ' Ay ! they worn't 
so 'cute in ould times, when my poor grandfather was 
tried, as they are now, or maybe he'd have had betther 
luck.' 

' What happened to him ? ' said I. 

' He was hanged, acushla ! ' said he, knocking the ashes 
out of his pipe as leisurely as might be, and then mumbling 
a scrap of a prayer below his breath. 

' For what ? ' asked I, in some agitation ; but he didn't 



CON CREGAN 235 

hear me, being sunk in his own reflections, so that I was 
forced to repeat my question. 

' You never heerd of one Mr. Shinane, of the Grove ? ' 
said he, after a pause ; ' of coorse ye didn't — 'tis many 
years ago now ; but he was well known oncet, and owned 
a great part of Ennistymore, and a hard man he was. But 
no matter for that — he was a strong, full man, with rosy 
cheeks, and stout built, and sorra a lease in the country 
had not his life in it ! — a thing he liked well, for he used to 
say, " It '11 be the ruin of ye all, if any one shoots me ! " 
Well, my grandfather — rest his sowl in glory! — was his 
driver, and used to manage everything on the property for 
him ; and considerin' what a hard thing it is, he was well 
liked by the country round — all but by one man, Maurice 
Cafferty by name. I never seed him, for it was all 'fore I 
was born, but the name is in my mind, as if I knew him 
well — I used to hear it every night of my life when I was a 
child ! 

' There was a dispute about Cafferty's houldin', and my 
grandfather was for turnin' him out, for he was a bad 
tenant ; but Mr. Shinane was af eerd of him, and said, 
" Leave him quiet, Mat," says he ; " he 's a troublesome 
chap, and we '11 get rid of him in our own good time ; but 
don't drive him to extremities. I told him to come up to 
the cottage this morning ; come with me there, and we '11 
talk to him." Now the cottage was a little place about two 
miles off, in the woods, where the master used to dine 
sometimes in summer, when they were chipping bark, but 
nobody lived there. 

' It was remarked by many that morning, as they went 
along, that my grandfather and Mr. Shinane were in high 
words all the time — at least so the people working in the 
fields thought, and even the childer that was picking bark 
said that they were talking as if they were very angry 
with each other. 

' This was about eleven o'clock, and at the same time 
Cafferty, who was selling a pig in Ennistymore, said to the 



236 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

butcher, "Be quick, and tell me what you'll give, for I 
must go home and clean myself, as I'm to speak to the 
master to-day about my lease," Well, at a little before 
twelve Cafferty came through the wood, and asked the 
people had they seen Mr. Shinane pass by, for that he 
towld him to meet him at the cottage ; and the workmen 
said yes, and more by token that he was quarrellin' with 
Mat Cullinane. " I 'm sorry for that," says Cafferty, " for I 
wanted him to be in a good humour, and long life to him !" 
The words wasn't well out, but what would they see but 
my grandfather running towards them, at the top of his 
speed, screeching out like mad, " The master 's murdered ! 
the master's kilt dead!" Away they all went to the 
cottage, and there upon the floor was the dead body, with 
an axe buried deep in the skull — so deep that only the 
thick part of the iron was outside. That was the dreadful 
sight ! and sure enough, after looking at the corpse, every 
eye was turned on my grandfather, who was leaning on 
the dresser, pale and trembling, and his hands and knees 
all covered with blood. "How did it happen, Mat?" said 
three or four together ; but Cafferty muttered, " It 's better 
ask nothing about it; it's not likely he'll tell us the 
truth!" 

'The same night my grandfather was arrested on 
suspicion and brought to Ennis, where he was lodged in 
gaol; and although there was no witness agin' him, nor 
anything more than I towld ye — the high words between 
them, the axe being my grandfather's, the blood on his 
clothes and hands, and his dreadful confusion when the 
people came up — all these went so hard against him, and 
particularly as the judge said it was good to make an 
example, that he was condemned; and so it was he was 
hanged on the next Saturday in front of the gaol ! ' 

' But what defence did he make ? what account did he 
give of the circumstance ? ' 

' All he could tell was, that he was standing beside the 
master at the table, talking quietly, when he heard a shout 



CON CREGAN 237 

and a yell in the wood, and he said, " They 're stealing the 
bark out there ; they '11 not leave us a hundredweight of it 
yet!" and out he rushed into the copse. The shouting 
grew louder, and he thought it was some of the men cryin' 
for help, and so he never stopped running till he came 
where they were at work felling trees. "What's the 
matter ? " says he to the men, as he came up panting and 
breathless ; " where was the screeching ? " 

' " We heerd nothing," says the men. 

' " Ye heerd nothing ! didn't ye hear yells and shouting 
this minute ? " 

' " Sorra bit," says the men, looking strangely at each 
other, for my grandfather was agitated, and trembling, 
between anger and a kind of fear ; just, as he said after- 
wards, " as if there was something dreadful going to 
happen him ! " " Them was terrible cries, anyway ! " says 
my grandfather; and with that he turned back to the 
cottage, and it was then that he found the master lying 
dead on his face, and the axe in his skull. He tried to lift 
him up, or turn him over on his back, and that was the 
way he bloodied his hands, and all the front of his clothes. 
That was all he had to say, and to swear before the sight 
of Heaven that he didn't do it ! 

• No matter ! they hanged him for it ! Ay, and I have 
an ould newspaper in my trunk this minit, where there 's 
a great discoorse about the wickedness of a crayture going 
out of the world wid a lie on his last breath ! ' 

' And you think he was innocent ? ' said I. 

' Sure, we know it ! sure, the priest said to my father — 
" Take courage," says he, " your father isn't in a bad place. 
If he 's in purgatory," says he, " he 's not over the broken 
bridge, where the murderers does be, but in the meadows, 
where the stream is shallow and stepping-stones in it ! and 
every stone costs ten masses — sorra more ! " God help us ! 
but blood is a dreadful thing ! ' And with this reflection, 
uttered in a voice of fervent feeling, the hardy peasant laid 
down his pipe ; and I could see, by his muttering lips and 



238 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

clasped hands, that he was offering up a prayer for the 
soul's rest of his unhappy kinsman. 

' And what became of Caff erty ? ' said I, as he finished 
his devotions. 

' 'Twas never rightly known ; for, after he gave evidence 
on the trial, the people didn't like him, and he left the 
place ; some say. he went to his mother's relations down in 
Kerry ! ' 

The deep-drawn breathings of the sleepers around us ; 
the unbroken stillness of the night ; the fast-expiring 
embers, which only flickered at intervals, contributed their 
aid to make the story more deeply affecting ; and I sat 
pondering over it, and canvassing within my mind all the 
probabilities of the condemned man's guilt or innocence ; 
nor, I must own it, were all my convictions on the side of 
the narrator's belief ; but even that very doubt heightened 
the interest considerably. As for Cullinane, his thoughts 
were evidently less with the incidents of the characters as 
they lived, than with that long pilgrimage of expiation, in 
which his imagination pictured his poor relative still a 
wanderer beyond the grave. 

The fire now barely flickered, throwing from time to 
time little jets of light upon the sleeping figures around 
us, and then leaving all in dark indistinctness. My com- 
panion also, crouching down, hid his face within his hands, 
and either slept or was lost in deep thought, and I alone of 
all the party was left awake, my mind dwelling on the tale 
I had just heard with a degree of interest to which the 
place and the hour strongly contributed. 

I had been for some time thus, when the sound of feet 
moving heavily overhead attracted my attention — they 
were like the sluggish footsteps of age, but passing to and 
fro with what seemed haste and eagerness. I could hear 
a voice, too, which even in its indistinctness I recognised 
as that of the old woman, and once or twice fancied I 
could detect another, whose accents sounded like pain and 
suffering. The shuffling footsteps still continued, and I 



CON CREGAN 239 

heard the old crazy sash of the window open, and, after an 
interval, shut again, while I distinctly could catch the old 
hag's voice, saying, ' It 's all dark without ; there 's no use 
"trying!"' A low whining sound followed; and then I 
heard the old woman slowly descending the stairs, and by 
the motion of her hand along the wall I conjectured that 
she had no light. 

She stopped as she came to the door, and seemed to 
listen to the long-drawn breathing of the sleepers, and 
then she pushed open the door and entered. With a 
strange dread of what this might mean, I still resolved to 
let the event take its course ; and, feigning deepest sleep, I 
lay back against the wall, and watched her well. 

Guiding herself along by the wall, she advanced slowly, 
halting every second or third step to listen — a strange 
precaution, since her own asthmatic breathing was enough 
to mask all other sounds. At last she neared the grate ; 
and then her thin and cordlike fingers passed from the 
wall, to rest upon my head. It was with a kind of thrill I 
felt them, for I perceived by the touch that she did not 
know on what her hand was placed. She knelt down now, 
close beside me, and stooping over, stirred the embers with 
her fingers, till she discovered some faint resemblance to 
fire, amid the dark ashes. To brighten this into flame, she 
blew upon it for several minutes, and, even taking the 
live embers in her hands, tried in every way to kindle 
them. 

With a patience that seemed untirable, she continued 
at this for a long time — now selecting from the hearth 
some new material to work upon, and now abandoning it 
for another — till when I had almost grown drowsy in 
watching this monotonous process, a thin bright light 
sprang up, and I saw that she had lighted a little piece of 
candle that she held in her hand. I think even now I 
have her before me, as, crouched down upon her knees, 
and sheltering the candle from the current air of the 
room, she took a stealthy but searching glance at the 



240 THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 

figures, who in every attitude of weariness were sleeping 
heavily around. 

It was not without a great effort that she regained her 
feet — for she was very old and infirm; and now she 
retraced her steps cautiously as she came — stooping at 
intervals to listen, and then resuming her way as before. 
I watched her till she passed out ; and then, as I heard her 
first heavy footstep on the stair, I slipped off my shoes 
and followed her. 

My mind throughout the whole of that night had been 
kept in a state of tension, that invariably has the effect 
of magnifying the significance of every — even the very 
commonest occurrences. It resembles that peculiar con- 
dition in certain maladies, when the senses become preter- 
naturally acute; in such moments the reason is never 
satisfied with drawing only from inferences for any fact 
before it ; it seeks for more, and in the effort becomes lost 
in the mazes of mere fancy. I will own that, as with 
stealthy step and noiseless gesture I followed that old 
hag, there was a kind of ecstasy in my terror which no 
mere sense of pleasure could convey. The light seemed 
to show ghastly shapes, as she passed, on the green and 
mouldy walls ; and her head, with its masses of long and 
straggling grey hair, nodded in shadow like some un* 
earthly spectre. 

As she came nigh the top, I heard a weak and whining 
cry, something too deep for the voice of infancy, but 
seeming too faint for manhood. ' Ay, ay,' croaked the 
hag harshly, ' I 'm coming — I 'm coming ! ' and as she said 
this, she pushed open a door and entered a room, which, 
by the passing gleam of light as she went, I presumed lay 
next to the roof, for the rafters and the tiles were both 
visible, as there was no ceiling. 

I held my breath as I slowly stole along, and then 
reaching the door as it lay half ajar, I crouched down and 
peeped in. 




SCENE, AND 'MY LUCUBRATIONS 
ON THE ST. LAWRENCE' 

HEN the light of the candle which the 
old woman carried had somewhat dissi- 
pated the darkness, I could see the whole interior of the 
room ; and certainly, well habituated as I had been from 
my earliest years to such sights, poverty like this I never 
had seen before ! Not a chair nor table was there ; a 
few broken utensils for cooking, such as are usually 
thrown away as useless among rubbish, stood upon the 
cold hearth. A few potatoes on one broken dish, and a 
little meat on another, were the only things like food. 
It was not for some minutes that I perceived in the corner 
a miserable bed of straw confined within a plank, sup- 
ported by two rough stones ; nor was it till I had looked 
long and closely that I saw that the figure of a man lay 
extended on the bed, his stiffened and outstretched limbs 
resembling those of a corpse. Towards this the old 
woman now tottered with slow steps, and setting the 
small piece of candle upright in a saucer, she approached 
13 Q 



242 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

the bed. ' There it is, now ; look at it, and make yer 
mind aisy,' said she, placing it on the floor beside the bed, 
in such a position that he could see it. 

The sick man turned his face round, and as his eyes 
met the light, there came over his whole features a 
wondrous change. Livid and clammy with the death 
sweat, the rigid muscles relaxed, and in the staring eye- 
balls and the parted lips there seemed a perfect paroxysm 
of emotion. ' Is that it ? — are you sure that 's it ? ' cried he, 
in a voice to which the momentary excitement imparted 
strength. 

' To be sure I am ; I seen Father Ned bless it himself 
and sprinkle it too ! ' said she. 

• Oh ! the heavenly ' He stopped, and in a lower 

voice added, ' Say it for me, Molly ! — say it for me, Molly ! 
I can't say it myself.' 

' Keep your eyes on the blessed candle ! ' said the hag 
peevishly ; ' 'tis a quarter dollar it cost me.' 

'Wouldn't he come, Molly? — did he say he wouldn't 
come ? ' 

' Father Ned ! arrah, 'tis likely he 'd come here at night, 
with the Tapageers on their rounds, and nothing to give 
him when he kem ! ' 

' Not to hear my last words ! — not to take my confes- 
sion ! ' cried he, in a kind of shriek. ' Oh ! 'tis the black 
list of sins I have to own to ! ' 

' Whisht — whisht ! ' cried the hag. ' 'Tis many a year 
ago now ; maybe it 's all forgot.' 

' No, it 's not,' cried the dying man, with a wild energy 
he did not seem to have strength for. 'When you wor 
away, Molly, he was here, standing beside the bed.' 

The old hag laughed with a horrid sardonic laugh. 

' Don't — don't, for the love of — ah — I can't say — I can't 
say it,' cried he, and the voice died away in the effort. 

' What did he say to ye when he kem ? ' said she, in a 
scoffing tone. 

' He never spoke a word, but he pressed back the cloth 



CON CREGAN 243 

that was on his head, and I saw the deep cut in it, down to 
the very face ! ' 

' Well, I am sure it had time to heal before this,' said 
the woman, with a tone of mockery that at last became 
palpable to the dying man. 

' Where 's Dan, Molly — did he never come back since ? ' 

' Sorra bit : he said he 'd go out of the house, and never 
come back to it. You frightened the boy with the terrible 
things you say in your ravings.' 

' Oh ! murther — murther — my own flesh and blood 
desart me.' 

' Then why won't you be raisonable — why won't you 
hould your peace about what happened long agone ? ' 

' Because I can't,' said he, with a peevish eagerness. 
' Because I 'm going where it 's all known a'ready.' 

'Faix, and I wouldn't be remindin' them, anyway!' 
said the hag, whose sarcastic impiety added fresh tortures 
to the dying sinner. 

' I wanted to tell Father Ned all — I wanted to have 
masses for him that 's gone — the man that suffered instead 
of me! Oh dear! — Oh dear! — and nobody will come 
to me.' 

'If ye cry that loud I'll leave you too,' said the hag. 
' They know already 'tis the spotted fever ye have, and 
the Tapageers would burn the house under you, if I was 
to go.' 

' Don't go, Molly — don't leave me ! ' he cried, with heart- 
rending anguish. ' Bring the blessed candle nearer, I don't 
see it well.' 

' You '11 see less of it soon — 'tis nigh out,' said she, snuff- 
ing the wick with her fingers. 

The dying man now stretched out his fleshless fingers 
towards the light, and I could see by his lips that he was 
praying. ' They 're calling me now,' cried he, ' Molly ' — 
and his voice of a sudden grew strong and full — ' don't you 
hear them ? — there it is again — Maurice Caff erty — Maurice 
Cafferty, yer wantin'.' 



244 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

' Lie down and be at peace,' said she, rudely pushing 
him back on the bed. 

' The blessed candle — where 's the blessed candle ? ' 
shrieked he. 

' 'Tis out,' said the hag, and as she spoke the wick fell 
into the saucer, and all was dark. 

A wild and fearful cry broke from the sick man, and re- 
echoed through the silent house, and ere it died away I had 
crept stealthily back to my place beside my companions. 

' Did you hear anything, or was I dreamin' ? ' said Joe 
to me ; ' I thought I heard the most dreadful scream- 
like a man drownin'.' 

'It was a dream, perhaps,' said I, shuddering at the 
thought of what I had just witnessed, while I listened 
with terrible anxiety for any sound overhead, but none 
came ; and so passed the long hours till day-dawn. 

Without revealing to my companion the terrible scene 
I had been witness to, I told him that we were in the same 
house with a fearful malady — an announcement I well 
knew had greater terror for none than an Irish peasant. 
He at once decided on departing ; and, although day was 
barely breaking, he awoke the others, and a low whisper- 
ing conversation ensued, in which I felt, or imagined at 
least, that I was an interested party. At last, Joe turning 
towards me, said, ' And you, sir, what do you mean 
to do?' 

' The very question,' said I, ' that I cannot answer. If 
I were to follow my inclination, I'd turn homeward; if 
I must yield to necessity, I'll call upon the Governor- 
General, and remain with him till I hear from my friends.' 

There was a pause — a moment of deliberation seemed 
to fall upon the bystanders, which at length was broken 
by the old man saying, ' Well, good-luck be with you, any 
way ; 'tis the best thing you could do ! ' 

I saw that I had overshot my bolt, and with difficulty 
concealed my annoyance at my own failure. My irritation 
was, I conclude, sufficiently apparent, for Joe quickly said, 



CON CREGAN 245 

' We 're very sorry to part with you ; but if we could be of 
any use before we go ' 

' Which way do you travel ? ' said I carelessly. 

' That 's the puzzle, for we don't know the country. Tis 
New Orleans we 'd like to go to first.' 

' Nothing easier,' said I. ' Take the steamer to Montreal, 
cross over into the States, down Lake Champlain to White- 
hall, over to Albany, and then twenty hours down the 
Hudson brings you to New York.' 

'You know the way well!' said Joe, with an undis- 
guised admiration for my geography, which, I need not 
tell the reader, was all acquired from books and maps. 

' I should think so ! ' said I, ' seeing that I might travel 
it blindfold!' 

' Is it dangerous ? Are there Injuns ? ' said the old man, 
whose mind seemed very alive to the perils of red men. 

' There are some tribes on the way,' said I ; ' but the 
white fellows you meet with are worse than the red ones 
— such rogues, and assassins, too ! ' 

1 The saints presarve us ! How will we ever do it ? ' 

' Look out for some smart fellow who knows the way, 
and thoroughly understands the people, and who can 
speak French fluently, for the first part of the journey, 
and who is up to all the Yankee roguery, for the second. 
Give him full power to guide and direct your expedition, 
and you '11 have both a safe journey and a pleasant one.' 

' Ay, and where will we get him ? ' cried one. 

'And what would he be askin' for his trouble?' said 
another ; while Joe, with an assenting nod, reiterated both 
questions, and seemed to expect that answer from me. 

' It ought to be easy enough in such a city as this,' said 
I negligently. 'Are you acquainted with Forbes and 
Gudgeon? They are my bankers. They could, I am sure, 
find out your man at once.' 

' Ah, sir, we know nobody at all ! ' exclaimed Joe, in an 
accent of such humility that I actually felt shocked at my 
own duplicity. 



246 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

'By Jove!' said I, as though a sudden thought had 
struck me, 'very little would make me go with you my- 
self.' A regular burst of joy from the whole party here 
interrupted me. ' Yes, I 'm quite in earnest,' said I, with 
a dignified air. ' This place will be excessively distasteful 
to me henceforth. I have placed myself in what is called 
a false position here, and 'twere far better to escape from 
it at once.' 

' That would be the making of us, all out, if you could 
come, Mr. Gregan ! ' said Joe. 

' Let me interrupt you one moment,' said I. ' If I should 
accompany you on this journey, there is one condition 
only upon which I would consent to it.' 

' Whatever you like ; only say it,' said he, over whom I 
had established a species of magnetic influence. 

' It is this, then,' said I, ' that you treat me on terms of 
perfect equality — forget my birth and rank in life ; regard 
me exactly as one of yourselves. Let me be no longer 
anything but Con Cregan.' 

' That 's mighty handsome, entirely ! ' said the old man 
— a sentiment concurred in by the whole family in chorus. 

' Remember, then,' said I, ' no more Mr. Cregan. I am 
Con — nothing more ! ' 

Joe looked unutterable delight at the condescension. 

' Secondly, I should not wish to go back to my lodgings 
here, after what has occurred ; so I '11 write a few lines to 
have my trunks forwarded to Montreal, until which time 
1 11 ask of you to procure me a change of costume, for I 
cannot bear to be seen in this absurd dress by daylight.' 

' To be sure — whatever you please ! ' said Joe, overjoyed 
at the projected arrangement. 

After some further discussion on the subject, I inquired 
where their luggage was stored ; and learned that it lay 
at the Montreal Steamer Wharf, where it had been 
deposited the preceding day ; and by a bill of the packets, 
which Joe produced, I saw that she was to sail that very 
morning, at eight o'clock. There was then no time to lose ; 



CON CREGAN 247 

so I advised my companions to move silently and noise- 
lessly from the house, and to follow me. With an implicit 
reliance on every direction I uttered, they stole carefully 
down the stairs, and issued into the street, which was now 
deserted. 

Although in total ignorance of the locality, I stepped 
out confidently; and first making for the harbour, as a 
' point of departure,' I at last reached the ' New Wharf,' as 
the station of the river steamers was called. With an air 
of the most consummate effrontery I entered the office to 
bargain for our passage; and although the clerks were 
not sparing of their ridicule, both on my pretensions and 
my costume — as the conversation was carried on in French, 
my companions stared in wonder at my fluency, and in 
silent ecstasy at the good fortune that had thrown them 
into such guidance. 

It was a busy morning for me; since besides getting 
their luggage on board, and procuring them a hearty 
breakfast, I had also to arrange about my own costume, 
of which I now felt really ashamed at every step. 

At length we got under weigh, and steamed stoutly 
against the fast-flowing St. Lawrence, our decks crowded 
with a multifarious and motley crew of emigrants, all 
bound for various places in the Upper Province, but with 
as pleasant an ignorance of where they were going, what 
it was like, and how far off, as the most devoted fatalist 
could have wished for. A few, and they were the shrewd 
exceptions, remembered the name of the city in whose 
neighbourhood they were about to settle; many more 
could only say negatively, that it wasn't Lachine, nor 
it wasn't Trois Rivieres ; some were only capable of affirm- 
ing that it was 'beyant Montreal,' or 'higher up than 
Kingston ' ; and lastly, a ' few bright spirits ' were going, 
' wid the help o' God, where Mick was,' or ' Peter.' They 
were not downhearted, nor anxious, nor fretful for all 
this ; far from it. It seemed as if the world before them, 
in all the attractions of its novelty, suggested hope. They 



248 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

had left a land so full of wretchedness that no change 
could well be worse; so they sat in pleasant little knots 
and groups upon the deck ' discoorsinV Ay, just so! — 
' discoorsinV Sassenach that you are ! I hear you mutter- 
ing, What is that ? Well, I '11 tell you. ' Discoorsin' ' is 
not talking, nor chaffing, nor mere conversing. It is not 
the causerie of the French, nor the conversazione of Italy, 
nor is it the Gespraclis Unterhaltung of plodding old 
Germany, but it is an admirable me'lange of all together. 
It is a grand olla podrida, where all things, political, 
religious, agricultural, and educational, are discussed with 
such admirable keeping, such uniformity in the tone of 
sentiment and expression, that it would be difficult to 
detect a change in the subject-matter, from the quiet 
monotony of its handling. The Pope — the praties — Molly 
Somebody's pig and the Priest's pony — Dan O'Connell's 
last instalment of hope — the price of oats — the late assizes 
— laments over the past, the blessed days when there was 
little law and no police ; when masses were cheap and 
mutton to be had for stealing it — such were the themes in 
vogue. And though generally one speaker ' held the floor,' 
there was a running chorus of 'Sure enough!' 'Devil 
fear ye ! ' ' An' why not ? ' kept up, that made every hearer 
a sleeping partner in the eloquence. Dissent or contra- 
diction was a thing unheard of ; they were all subjects 
upon which each felt precisely alike. No man's experience 
pointed to anything save rainy seasons and wet potatoes, 
cheap bacon and high county cess. Life had its one 
phase of monotonous want, only broken in upon by the 
momentary orgy of an election, or the excitement of a 
county town on the Saturday of an execution. 

And so it was. Like the nor'-easter that followed 
them over the seas, came all the memories of what they 
had left behind. They had little care for even a passing 
look at the new and strange objects around them. The 
giant cedar-trees along the banks — the immense rafts, like 
floating islands, hurrying past on the foaming current, 



CON CREGAN 249 

with myriads of figures moving on them — the endless 
forests of dark pines, the quaint log-houses, unlike those 
farther north, and with more pretension to architectural 
design — and now and then a Canadian bateau, shooting 
past like a sword-fish, its red-capped crew saluting the 
steamer with a wild cheer that would wake the echoes 
many a mile away. If they looked at these, it was easy to 
see that they noted them but indifferently ; their hearts 
were far away. Ay ! in spite of misery, and hardship, and 
famine, and flood, they were away in the wilds of Erris, 
in the bleak plains of Donegal, or the lonely glens of 
Connemara. 

It has often struck me that our rulers should have per- 
petuated the names of Irish localities in the New World. 
One must have experienced the feeling himself to know 
the charm of this simple association. The hourly recurr- 
ing name that speaks so familiarly of home is a powerful 
antidote to the sense of banishment. 

Well, here I am, prosing about emigrants and their 
regrets, and wants, and hopes, and wishes, and forgetting 
the while the worthy little group who, with a hot ' net ' of 
potatoes (for in this fashion each mess is allowed to boil 
its quota), and a very savoury cut of ham, awaited my 
presence in the steerage ; they were good and kindly souls 
every one of them. The old grandfather was a fine prosy 
old grumbler about the year '98, and the terrible doings of 
the 'Yeos.' Joe was a stout-hearted, frank fellow, that 
only wanted fair-play in the world to make his path 
steadily onward. The sons were, in Irish parlance, ' good 
boys,' and the girls fine-tempered and good-natured — as 
ninety-nine out of the hundred are in the land they come 
from. 

Now, shall I forfeit some of my kind reader's considera- 
tion if I say that, with all these excellences, and many 
others besides, they became soon inexpressibly tiresome to 
me. There was not a theme they spoke on that I had not 
already by heart. Irish grievances, in all their moods and 



250 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

tenses, had been always ' stock pieces ' in my father's cabin, 
and I am bound to acknowledge that the elder Cregan had 
a sagacity of perception, a shrewdness of discrimination, 
and an aptitude of expression not to be found every day. 
Listening to the Cullinanes after him was like hearing the 
butler commenting in the servants' hall over the debate 
one had listened to in ' the House.' It was a strange, queer 
sensation that I felt coming over me as we travelled along 
day by day together, and I can even now remember the 
shriek of ecstasy that escaped me one morning, when I 
had hit upon the true analysis of my feelings, and jump- 
ing up, I exclaimed, ' Con ! you are progressing, my boy ; 
you 11 be a gentleman yet ; you have learned to be bored 
already!' From that hour I cultivated 'my Cullinanes' 
as people take a course of a Spa, where, nauseous and dis- 
tasteful at the time, one fancies he is to store up Heaven 
knows how many years of future health and vigour. 

In a former chapter of these Confessions I have told 
the reader the singular sensations I experienced when first 
under the influence of port wine; how a kind of trans- 
fusion, as it were, of Conservative principles, a respect for 
order, a love of decorum, a sleepy indisposition to see 
anything like confusion going on about me — all feelings 
which, I take it, are eminently gentlemanlike. Well, this 
fastidious weariness of the Cullinanes was evidently the 
'second round of the ladder.' 'It is a grand thing to be 
able to look down upon any one ! ' I do not mean this in 
any invidious or unworthy sense ; not for the sake of 
depreciating others, but purely for the sake of one's own 
self-esteem. I would but convey that the secret conviction 
of superiority is amazingly exhilarating. To 'hold your 
stride ' beside an intellect that you can pass when you like, 
and which you accompany merely in order to ' make a race,' 
is rare fun ; to see the other using every effort of whip and 
spur, bustling, shaking, and lifting, while you, well down 
in your saddle, never put the rowel to the flank of your 
fancy — this is indeed glorious sport ! In return for this, 



CON CREGAN 251 

however, there is an intolerable degree of lassitude in the 
daily association of people who are satisfied to talk for 
ever of the same things in the same terms. 

The incidents of our journey were few and uninterest- 
ing. At Montreal I received a very civil note from Mrs. 
Davis, accompanying my trunk and my purse. In the 
few lines I had written to her from the packet-office, I 
said that my performance of a servant's character in her 
establishment had been undertaken for a wager, which I 
had just won ; that I begged of her, in consequence, to 
devote the wages owing to me to any charitable office she 
should think fit, and kindly to forward my effects to 
Montreal, together with a certificate under her hand, that 
my real rank and station had never been detected during 
my stay in her house — this document being necessary to 
convince my friend, Captain Pike, that I had fulfilled the 
conditions of our bet. 

Mrs. Davis's reply was a gem. ' She had heard or read 
of Conacre, but didn't suspect we were the Cregans of that 
place. She did not know how she could ever forgive 
herself for having subjected me to menial duties. She 
had indeed been struck — as who had not? — with certain 
traits of my manner and address.' In fact, poor Mrs. D., 
what with the material for gossip suggested by the story, 
the surprise, and the saving of the wages — for I suspect 
that, like the Duke in Junius, her charity ended where it 
is proverbially said to begin, at home — was in a perfect 
paroxysm of delight with me, herself, and the whole 
human race. 

To me this was a precious document ; it was a patent 
of gentility at once. It was a passport which, if not issued 
by authority, had at least the visa of one witness to my 
rank, and I was not the stuff to require many credentials. 

Before we had decided on what day we should leave 
Montreal, a kind of small mutiny began to show itself 
among our party. The old man, grown sick of travelling, 
and seeing the America of his hopes as far off as ever, 



252 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

became restive, and refused to move farther. The sons 
had made acquaintances on board the steamer, who assured 
them that 'about the lakes' — a very vague geography — 
land was to be had for asking. Peggy and Susan had 
picked up sweethearts, and wanted to journey westward ; 
and poor Joe, pulled in these various directions, gave 
himself up to a little interregnum of drink, hoping that 
rum might decide what reason failed in. 

I saw that my own influence would depend upon my 
making myself a partisan ; and, too proud for this, I 
determined to leave them. I possessed some thirty dollars, 
— a good kit — but, better than either, the most unbounded 
confidence in myself, and a firm conviction that the world 
was an instrument I should learn to play upon one day or 
other. There was no use in undeceiving them as to my 
real rank and station. One of the pleasantest incidents 
of their lives would be, in all probability, their having 
travelled in companionship with a gentleman; and so, 
remembering the story of the poor alderman who never 
got over having learned that Robinson Crusoe was a 
fiction, I left them this solace unalloyed ; and after a most 
cordial leave-taking, and having written down my father's 
address at New Orleans, I shook hands with the men twice 
over, kissed the girls ditto, and stepped on board the 
Kingston steamer, for no other reason that I know, except 
that she was the first to leave the wharf that morning. 

I have said that I possessed something like thirty 
dollars ; an advantageous sale of a part of my wardrobe to 
a young gentleman about to reside at Queenstown, as 
a waiter, ' realised ' me as much more ; and with this sum 
I resolved upon making a short tour of Canada and the 
States, in order to pick up a few notions, and increase my 
store of experiences, ere I adopted any fixed career. 

We laugh at the old gentleman in the play, who on 
hearing that his son has no want of money, immediately 
offers him ten pistoles, but who obstinately leaves him to 
starve when he discovers that he is without funds. We laugh 



CON CREGAN 253 

at this, and we deem it absurd and extravagant ; but it is 
precisely what we see the world do in like circumstances. 
All its generosity is reserved for all those who do not require 
assistance — all its denials for those in need. 'My Lord' 
refuses half-a-dozen dinners, while the poor devil author 
only knows the tune of 'Roast Beef!' These reflections 
forced themselves upon me by observing that as I travelled 
along, apparently in no want of means, a hundred offers 
were made me by my fellow-travellers of situations and 
places : one would have enlisted me as his partner in a 
very lucrative piece of peripateticism — viz., knife-grinding, 
a vocation for which, after a few efforts on board the 
steamer, Nature would seem to have destined me, for I 
was assured I even picked up the sharp-knowing cock of 
the eye required to examine the edge, and the style of 
my pedal-action brought down rounds of applause ; still I 
did not like it. The endless tramp upon a step, which 
slipped from beneath you, seemed to emblematise a career 
that led to nothing ; while an unpleasant association with 
what I had heard of a treadmill completed my distaste 
for it. 

Another opened to me the more ambitious prospect of 
a shopman at his ' store,' near Rochester, and even showed 
me, by way of temptation, some of the brilliant wares over 
whose fortunes I should preside. There were ginghams, 
and taffetas, and cottons of every hue and pattern ; but 
no, I felt this was not my walk either ; and so I muttered 
to myself, ' No, Con ! if you meddle with muslin, wait till 
it 's fashioned into a petticoat.' 

My next proposition came from a barber ; and really 
if I did not take to the pole and basin, I own I was 
flattered at his praises of my skill. He pronounced my 
brush-hand as something bold, and masterly as Rubens 
— while my steel manipulation was more brilliant than 
bloodless. 

Then there was a Jew spectacle-maker — a hawker of 
pamphlets — an Indian moccasin merchant — and twenty 



254 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

other of various walks ; all of whom seemed to opine that 
their craft, whatever it might be, was exactly the very line 
adapted to my faculties. Once only was I really tempted : 
it was by the editor of the Kingston newspaper, The 
Ontario Herald, who offered to take me into his office, and 
in time induct me into the gentle pastime of paragraph 
writing. I did, I own, feel a strong inclination for that 
free and independent kind of criticism, which, although 
issuing from a garret, and by the light of a ' dip,' does not 
scruple to remind royalty how to comport itself, and gives 
kings and kaisers smart lessons in good-breeding. For a 
time my mind dwelt on all these delights with ardour ; but 
I soon felt that he who acts life has an incomparable 
advantage over him who merely writes it, and that even a 
poor performer is better, when the world is his stage, than 
the best critic. 

I'll wait, thought I — nothing within, no suggestive 
push from conscience urged me to follow any of these 
roads; and so I journeyed away from Kingston to Fort 
George, thence to Niagara, where I amused myself agree- 
ably for a week, sitting all day long upon the Table Rock, 
and watching the Falls in a dreamy kind of self-conscious- 
ness, brought on by the din, the crash, the spray, the 
floating surf, and that vibration of the air on every side — 
which all conspire to make up a sensation that ever after 
associates with the memory of that scene, and leaves any 
effort to describe it so difficult. 

From this I wandered into the States by Schenactady, 
Utica, and Albany, down the Hudson to New York, thence 
— but why recite mere names ? It was after about three 
months' travelling, during which my wardrobe shared a 
fate not dissimilar to iEsop's bread-basket, that I found 
myself at New Orleans. Coming even from the varied 
and strange panorama that so many weeks of continual 
travelling present, I was struck by the appearance of New 
Orleans. Do not be afraid, worthy reader! you're not 
5 in ' for any description of localities. I '11 neither inflict 



CON CREGAN 255 

you with a land view nor a sea view. In my company 
you'll never hear a word about the measurement of a 
cathedral, or the number of feet in height of a steeple. 
My care and my business are with men and women. They 
are to me the real objects of travel. The chequered board 
of human life is the map whose geography I love to 
study, and my thoughts are far more with the stream 
that flows from the heart than with the grandest river 
that ever sought the sea. When I said I was struck with 
New Orleans, it was, then, with the air of its population. 
Never did I behold such a mass of bold, daring, reckless 
fellows as swaggered on every side. The fiery French- 
man, the determined-looking Yankee, the dark-browed 
Spaniard, the Camanche and the half-caste, the Mulatto, 
the Texan, the Negro, the Cuban, and the Creole, were all 
here, and all seemed picked specimens of their race. 

The least acute of observers could not fail to see that it 
was a land where a quick eye, a steady foot, and a strong 
hand were requisites of everyday life. The personal en- 
counters, that in other cities are left altogether to the 
very lowest class of inhabitants, were here in frequent 
use among every grade and rank. Every one went armed ; 
the scenes which so often occurred showed the precaution 
a needful one. 

The wide-awake look of the Yankee was sleepy indiffer- 
ence when contrasted with the intense keenness of aspect 
that met you here at every step, and you felt at once that 
you were in company where all your faculties would be 
few enough for self -protection. This, my first impression 
of the people, each day's experience seemed to confirm. 
Whatever little veils of shame and delicacy men throw 
over their sharp practices elsewhere, here, I am free to 
confess, they despised such hypocrisy. It was a free 
trade in wickedness. In their game of life 'cheating 
was fair.' Now this in nowise suited me nor my plans. 
I soon saw that all the finer traits of my own astuteness 
would be submerged in the great ocean of coarse roguery 



256 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

around me, and I soon resolved upon taking my de- 
parture. 

The how, and the where to ? — two very important 
items in the resolve, were yet to be solved, and I was 
trotting along Cliff Street one day, when my eyes rested 
suddenly upon the great board with large letters on it, 
' Office of the Picayune.' I repeated the word over and 
over a couple of times, and then remembered it was the 
journal in which the reward for the Black Boatswain had 
been offered. 

There was little enough, Heavens knows, in this to give 
me any interest in the paper; but the total isolation in 
which I found myself, without one to speak to, or converse 
with, made me feel that even the Picayune was an 
acquaintance; and so I drew near the window, where a 
considerable number of persons were reading the last 
number of the paper, which in a laudable spirit of 
generosity was exposed within the glass to public gaze. 

Mingling with these, but not near enough to read for 
myself, I could hear the topics that were discussed ; among 
which, a row at the Congress — a duel with revolvers — a 
steam explosion on the Mississippi — and a few smart 
instances of Lynch-law figured. 

'What's that in the 'Yune print?' said a great raw- 
boned fellow, with a cigar like a small walking-cane in the 
corner of his mouth. 

'It's a Texan go,' said another; 'shan't catch me at 
that trick.' 

'Well, I don't know,' drawled out a sleek-haired man, 
with a considerable drawl ; ' I see Roarin' Peter, our judge 
up at New Small-pox, take a tarnation deal of booty out of 
that location.' 

' Where had he been ? ' asked the tall fellow. 

' At Guajuaqualla — over the frontier.' 

' There is a bit to be done about there,' said the other ; 
and wrapping his mantle about him, lounged off. 

' Guajuaqualla ! ' repeated I ; and, retiring a little from 



CON CREGAN 257 

the crowd, I took from my pocket the little newspaper 
paragraph of the negro, and read the name which had 
sounded so familiarly to my ears. 

I endeavoured once more to approach the window, but 
the crowd had already increased considerably, and I had 
nothing for it but to go in and buy the paper, which now 
had taken a strong hold upon me. 

Cheap as was the paper, it cost me that day's dinner ; 
and it was with a very great anxiety to test the value 
of my sacrifice that I hastened to the little miserable den 
which I had hired as my sleeping-place. 

Once within, I fastened the door, and spreading out 
the journal on my bed, proceeded to, search for the Texan 
paragraph. It was headed in capitals, and easily found. 
It ran thus : ' Wanted a few downright, go-ahead ones, 
to join an excursion into the One-Star Republic — the 
object being to push away down south, and open a new 
trade-line for home doings. iVpplicants to address the 
office of the paper, and rally at Galveston, with rifle, 
pistols, ammunition, horse, pack, and a bowie, on Tuesday, 
the 8th instant.' 

I'm sure I knew that paragraph off by heart before 
bed-time ; but just as I have seen a stupid man commit a 
proposition in Euclid to memory — without ever being able 
to work it, I was totally at a loss what to make of the 
meaning of the expedition. It was, to say the least, 
somewhat mysterious ; and the whole being addressed 
to 'go-ahead ones,' who "were to come with rifles and 
bowie-knives, showed that they were not likely to be 
missionaries. There was one wonderful clause about it ; 
it smacked of adventure. There was a roving wildness 
in the very thought which pleased me, and I straightway 
opened a consultation with myself how I could compass 
the object. My stock of money had dwindled down to 
four dollars ; and although I still possessed some of the 
best articles of my wardrobe, the greater portion had 
been long since disposed of. 
13 R 



258 THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 

Alas ! the more I thought over it, the more hopeless did 
my hope of the journey appear. I made every imaginable 
good bargain in my fancy; I disposed of old waistcoats 
and gaiters, as if they had been the honoured vestments 
of heroes and sages ; I knocked down my shoes at prices 
that old Frederick's boots wouldn't have fetched ; and yet 
with all this, I fell far short of a sum sufficient to purchase 
my equipment — in fact, I saw that if I compassed 'the 
bowie-knife,' it would be the full extent of my powers. 
I dwelt upon this theme so long that I grew fevered and 
excited; I got to believe that here was a great career 
opening before me, to which one petty, miserable obstacle 
opposed itself. I was like a man deterred from undertaking 
an immense journey by the trouble of crossing a rivulet. 

In this frame of mind I went to bed, but only to rove 
over my rude fancies, and, in a state between sleep and 
waking, to imagine that some tiny hand held me back, 
and prevented me ascending a path on which Fortune 
kept waving her hand for me to follow. When day broke 
I found myself sitting at my window, with the newspaper 
in my hands — though how I came there, or how long I 
had spent in that attitude, I cannot say — I only know that 
my limbs were excessively cold, and my temples hot, and 
that while my hands were benumbed and swollen, my 
heart beat faster and fuller than I had ever felt it before. 

' Now for the Picayune] said I, starting from my chair ; 
' though I never may make the journey, at least I '11 ask 
the road.' 




©KsflTli-.OTll 



THE ORDINARY OF ALL NATIONS 



Making my way with difficulty through the crowd 
which filled the hall of the house, and which consisted 
of purchasers, newsvenders, reporters, printers' devils, 
and others interested in the Picayune, all eagerly dis- 
cussing the news of the day, I reached a small back office, 
where, having knocked timidly twice, I was desired to 
enter. 

A man seated at a coarse deal table was cutting out 
paragraphs from various newspapers, which, as he threw 
them at either side of him, were eagerly caught up by 
two or three ragged urchins who were in waiting behind 
him. He looked up at me as I entered, and roughly asked 
what I wanted. 

'I have seen an advertisement in your paper, headed, 
" Expedition to Texas " ' 

' Upstairs — No. 3 — two-pair back,' said he, and went on 
with his labour. 



260 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

I hesitated, hoping he might add something ; but seeing 
that he had said all he intended or was likely to say, I 
slowly withdrew. 

' Upstairs, then — No. 3 — two-pair back,' said I to myself, 
and mounted, with the very vaguest notions of what 
business I had when I got there. There was no difficulty 
in finding the place — many others were hastening towards 
it at the same time; and in company with some half- 
dozen very ill-favoured and meanly clad fellows, I entered 
a large room, where about forty men were assembled, who 
stood in knots or groups, talking in low and confidential 
tones together. 

' Is there a committee to-day ? ' asked one of those who 
came in with me. 

' Business is over,' said another. 

' And is the lottery drawn ? ' 

' Ay, every ticket, except one or two.' 

' Who 's won Butcher's mare ? ' 

1 Tell us that, if you can,' said a huge fellow, with a red 
worsted comforter round his throat ; ' that 's exactly what 
we want to know.' 

'Well, I'm whipped if it ain't among those numbers,' 
said a pale man with one eye, ' and I '11 give fifty dollars 
for one of 'em.' 

' You would, would you ? ' said another, jeering. ' Lord, 
how soft you 've grown ! Why, she 's worth five hundred 
dollars, that 'ere beast ! ' 

1 Butcher gave a mustang and two hundred and seventy 
for her,' cried another. 

' Well, she broke his neck, for all that,' growled out he 
of the red neckcloth ; ' you '11 see that some chap will win 
her that don't want a beast, and she '11 be sold for a trifle.' 

' And there 's a free passage to Galveston, grub and 
liquor, in the same ticket,' said another ; ' an almighty 
sight of luck for one man ! ' 

' It ain't me, anyhow,' said red cravat, and then with a 
tremendous oath added, 'I've been a putter in at these 



CON CREGAN 261 

Texas lotteries for four years, and never won anything 
but a blessed rosary.' 

' What became of it, Dick ? ' said another, laughing. 

'The beads fitted my rifle-bore, and I fired em away 
when lead was scarce.' 

Various discussions followed about luck and lotteries, 
with anecdotes of all kinds respecting fortunate winners ; 
then came stories of Texan expeditions in former times, 
which I began to perceive were little else than specula- 
tions of a gambling kind, rarely intended to go farther 
than the quay of New Orleans. 

On the present occasion, however, it would seem a real 
expedition had been planned. Some had already sailed, 
others were to follow the very day after the lottery, and 
only waited to learn who was the fortunate winner of 
Butcher's mare, at that time waiting at Galveston for an 
owner. 

I waited a long time, in hope of acquiring something 
like an insight into the scope of the enterprise, but in 
vain ; indeed, it was easy to see that, of the company, 
not a single one, in all likelihood, intended to join the 
expedition. When I left the Picayune, therefore, I was 
but little wiser than when I entered it ; and yet somehow 
the whole scheme had taken a fast hold on my imagina- 
tion, which readily filled in the details of what I was 
ignorant. The course of reading in which I had indulged 
on board Sir Dudley's yacht was doubtless the reason of 
this. My mind had laid up so many texts for adventurous 
fancies, that on the slightest pretext I could call up any 
quantity of enterprise and vicissitude. 

A hundred times I asked myself if it were likely that 
any of these Texan adventurers would accept of my 
services to wait upon them. I was not ignorant of horses 
— a tolerably fair groom ; could cook a little — that much I 
had learned on board the yacht; besides, wherever my 
qualifications failed, I had a ready-witted ingenuity that 
supplied the place almost as well as the ' real article.' 



262 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

1 Ah ! ' thought I, ' who knows how many are passing 
at this moment whose very hearts would leap with joy 
to find such a fellow as I am, "accustomed to indoor 
and out, wages no object, and no objection to travel!'" 
Possessed with this notion, I could not help fancying that 
in every look that met mine as I went I could read some- 
thing like an inquiry —a searching glance that seemed to 
say, 'Bless me! ain't that Con? as I live, there's Con 
Cregan! What a rare piece of fortune to chance upon 
him at this juncture ! ' 

I own it did require a vivid and warm imagination so 
to interpret the expressions which met my eyes at every 
moment, seeing that the part of the town into which I 
had wandered was that adjoining to the docks — a filthy, 
gloomy quarter, chiefly resorted to by Jew slop-sellers, 
ship-chandlers, and such like, with here and there a 
sailors' ordinary, usually kept by a negro or half-breed. 

I had eaten nothing that day, and it was now late in 
the afternoon, so that it was with a very strong interest 
I peeped occasionally into the little dens, where, under a 
paper lantern with the inscription, ' All for Twelve Cents,' 
sat a company, usually of sailors and watermen, whose 
fare harmonised most unpleasantly with their features. 

The combat between a man's taste and his exchequer 
is never less agreeable than when it concerns a dinner. 
To feel that you have a soul for turtle and truffles, and 
yet must descend to mashed potatoes and herrings — to 
know that a palate capable of appreciating a salmi des 
perdreaux must be condemned to the indignity of stock 
fish — what an indignity is that ! The whole man revolts 
at it! You feel, besides, that such a meal is unrelieved 
by those suggestive excursions of fancy which a well- 
served table abounds in. In the one case you eat like 
the beast of the field — it is a question of supporting 
nature, and no more; in the other, there is a poetry 
interwoven that elevates and exalts. With what dis- 
cursive freedom does the imagination range from the 



CON CREGAN 263 

little plate of oysters that preludes your soup, to pearl- 
fishery and the coral reefs, 'with moonlight sleeping on 
the breaking surf ! ' And then your soup, be it turtle or 
mullagatawny, how associated is it with the West Indies 
or the East, bearing on its aromatic vapour thousands of 
speculative reflections about sugar and slavery, pepperpot, 
straw hats, pickaninnies, and the Bishop of Barbadoes ; 
or the still grander themes of elephants, emeralds, and the 
Indus, with rajahs, tigers, punkahs, and the Punjab ! 

And so you proceed, dreamily following out in fancy 
the hints each course supplies, and roving with your 
cutlets to the 'cattle upon a thousand hills,' or dallying 
with the dessert to the orange-groves of Zante or Sicily. 

I do love all this. The bouquet of my Bordeaux brings 
back the Rhone, as the dry muscat of my Johannisberg 
pictures the vine-clad cliffs of the Vaterland — with a long 
diminuendo train of thought about Metternich and the 
Holy Alliance — the unlucky treaty of '15 — Vienna — Madame 
Schrader— and Castelli. 

And how pleasantly and nationally does one come back 
with the port to our ' ancient ally Portugal,' with a mind- 
painted panorama of Torres Vedras and the Douro — with 
Black Horse Square and the Tagus — ' the Duke ' ever and 
anon flitting across the scene, and making each glass you 
carry to your lips a heartfelt ' long life to him ! ' 

Alas ! and alas ! such prandial delights were not for me ; 
I must dine for twelve cents, or, by accepting the brilliant 
entertainment announced yonder, price half-a-dollar, keep 
Lent the rest of the week. 

The temptation to which I allude ran thus : — 

' Ladies and Gentlemen s Grand Ordinary of all Nations 
At 5 o'clock precisely. 

Thumbo-rig — Mint julep — and a Ball. 

The "Half-dollar." 

Monsieur Palamede de Rosanne directs the Ceremonies' 



264 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

If there was a small phrase in the aforesaid not perfectly 
intelligible, it seemed upon the principle of the well-known 
adage, only to heighten the inducement. The 'Thumbo- 
rig' above might mean either a new potation or a new 
dance. Still, conceding this unknown territory, there was 
quite sufficient in the remainder of the advertisement 
to prove a strong temptation. The house, too, had a 
pretentious air about it that promised well. There was 
a large bow-window, displaying a perfect landscape of 
rounds and sirloins, with a tasteful drapery of sausages 
overhead; while a fragrant odour of rum, onions, fresh 
crabs, cheese, salt cod, and preserved ginger, made the 
very air ambrosial. 

As I stood and sniffed, my resolution staggering under 
the assaults made on eye, nose, and palate, a very smartly 
dressed female figure crossed the way, holding up her 
dress full an inch or so higher than even the mud required, 
and with a jaunty air displayed a pair of very pink 
stockings on very well-turned legs. I believe — I'm not 
sure, but I fear — the pink stockings completed what the 
pickled beef began. I entered. Having paid my money 
at the bar, and given up my hat and greatcoat, I was 
ushered by a black waiter, dressed in a striped jacket 
and trousers, as if he had been ruled with red ink, into 
a large room, where a very numerous company of both 
sexes were assembled — some seated, some standing, but 
all talking away with buzz and confusion, that showed 
perfect intimacy to be the order of the day. The men 
it was easy to see were chiefly in the 'shipping interest.' 
There was a strong majority of mates and small skippers, 
whose varied tongues ranged from Spanish and Portuguese 
to Dutch and Danish; French, English, and Russian were 
also heard in the melee, showing that the Grand Ordinary 
had a world-made repute. The ladies were mostly young, 
very condescending in their manners, somewhat over- 
dressed, and for the most part French. 

As I knew no one, I waited patiently to be directed 



CON CREGAN 265 

where I should sit, and was at last shown to a place 
between a very fat lady of Creole tint — another dip would 
have made her black — and a little brisk man, whom I soon 
heard was Monsieur Palamede himself. 

The dinner was good; the conversation easiest of the 
easy, taking in all, from matters commercial to social ; 
the whole seasoned with the greatest good-humour, and 
no small share of smartness. Personal adventures by 
land and sea — many of the latter recounted by men who 
made no scruple of confessing that they ' dealt in ebony ' 
— the slave-trade. Little incidents of life, that told much 
for the candour of the recounter, were heard on all sides, 
until at length I really felt ashamed of my own deficiency 
in not having even contributed an anecdote for the benefit 
of the company. This preyed upon me the more, as I saw 
myself surrounded by persons who really, if their own 
unimpeachable evidence was to be credited, began the 
world in ways and shapes the most singular and un- 
common. Not a man or woman of the party that had 
not slipped into existence in some droll, quaint fashion 
of their own, so that positively, and for the first time, I 
really grew ashamed to think that I belonged to ' decent 
people,' who had not compromised me in the slightest 
degree. ' Voila ! un jeune homme qui ne dit pas un mot ! ' 
said a pretty-looking woman with fair brown hair, and 
a very liquid pair of blue eyes. The speech was addressed 
to me, and the whole table at once turned their glances 
towards me. 

'Ay, very true,' said a short, stout little skipper, with 
an unmistakable slash from a cutlass across his nose. 
'A sharp-looking fellow like that has a story if he will 
only tell it.' 

' And you may see,' cried another, ' that we are above 
petty prejudices here ; roguery only lies heavy on the con- 
science that conceals it.' The speaker was a tall, sallow 
man, with singularly intelligent features ; he had been 
a Jesuit tutor in the family of an Italian noble, and 



266 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

after consigning his patron to the Inquisition, had been 
himself banished from Rome. 

Pressing entreaties and rough commands, half -imperious 

instances, and very seductive glances, all were directed 

towards me, with the object of extorting some traits of 

my life, and more particularly of that part of it which 

concerned my birth and parentage. If the example of 

the company invited the most unqualified candour, I 

cannot say that it overcame certain scruples I felt about 

revealing my humble origin. I was precisely in that 

anomalous position in life when such avowals are most 

painful. Without ambition, the confession had not cost 

me any sacrifice ; while, on the other hand, I had not 

attained that eminence which has a proud boastfulness 

in saying, 'Yes, I, such as you see me now — great, titled, 

wealthy, and powerful — I was the son of a newsvender 

or a lamplighter.' Such avowals, highly lauded as they 

are by the world, especially when made by archbishops 

or chancellors, or other great folk, at public dinners, are, 

to my thinking, about as vainglorious bits of poor human 

nature as the most cynical could wish to witness. They 

are the mere victories of vanity over self-esteem. Now, 

I had no objection that the world should think me a 

young gentleman of the very easiest notions of right 

and wrong, with a conscience as elastic as gutta-percha, 

picking my way across life's stream on the stepping-stones 

made by other men's skulls — being, as the phrase has it, 

a very loose fish indeed ; but I insisted on their believing 

that I was well-born. Every one has his weakness — this 

was Con Cregan's ; and as these isolated fissures in strong 

character are nearly allied with strength, so was it with 

me; had I not had this frailty I had never cherished so 

intensely the passion to become a gentleman. This is all 

digressionary ; but I '11 not ask pardon of my dear reader 

for all that. If he be reading in his snug well-cushioned 

chair, with every appliance of ease about him, he'll not 

throw down these Confessions for a bit of prosing that 



CON CREGAN 267 

invites the sleep that is already hovering round him. If 
he has taken me up in the few minutes before dinner, 
he'll not regret the bit of meditation which does not 
involve him in a story. If he be spelling me out in a 
mail-train, he'll be grateful for the 'skipping' place, 
which leaves him time to look out and see the ingenious 
preparations that are making by the ' down ' or the ' up ' 
train to run into and smash the unhappy convoy of 
which he forms a part. 

' Come, my young lad, out with it. Let us hear a bit 
about the worthy people who took the sin of launching 
you into the wide ocean. You must have had owners one 
time or other.' This was said by a hearty - looking old 
man, with hair white as snow, and an enormous pair of 
eyebrows to match. 

'Willingly, sir,' said I, with an air of the easiest con- 
fidence ; ' I should be but too proud if anything in a history 
humble as mine is could amuse this honourable company. 
But the truth is, a life so devoid of interest would be only 
a tax upon its patience to listen to ; and, as to my birth, I 
can give little — indeed no information. The earliest record 
of my existence that I possess is from the age of two days 
and three hours.' 

' That will do — do admirably ! ' chorused the party, 
who laughed heartily at the gravity with which I spoke, 
and which to them seemed an earnest of my extreme 
simplicity. 'We shall be quite satisfied with that,' cried 
they again. 

' Well, then, gentlemen, thanking you for the indulgence 
with which you consent to overlook my want of accuracy, 
I proceed. At the tender age I have mentioned I was won 
in a raffle ! ' 

' Won in a raffle ! won in a raffle ! ' screamed one after 
the other, and amid shouts of laughter the phrase continued 
to be echoed from end to end of the table. 'That beats 
you hollow, Giles ! ' ' By Jove, how scarce babies must be 
in the part you come from, if people take tickets for 'em ! ' 



268 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

Such were some of the commentaries that broke out amidst 
the mirth. 

' I move,' said a dapper little Frenchman, who had been 
a barber and a National Guard once, 'I move that the 
honourable deputy make a statement to the Chamber 
respecting the interesting fact to which he has alluded.' 

The motion was carried by acclamation, and I was 
accordingly induced to ascend the tribune, a kind of rude 
pulpit that was brought specially into the room, and 
stationed at the side of the president's chair, the com- 
ments on my personal appearance, age, air, and probable 
rank, which were made all the while, evidencing the most 
candid spirit one can well imagine. 

'A right-down slick and shrewd 'un, darn me if he 
ain't!' 

'A very wide-awake young gemman,' quoth number 
two. 

'II a de "beaux yeux," celui-la' — this was a lady's 
remark. 

' Set that young 'un among the girls " down east," and 
he '11 mow 'em down like grass.' 

' A Londoner — swell-mobbish a bit, I take it.' 

' Not at all, he an't ; he 's a bank clerk or a post-office 
fellow, bolted with a lot of tin.' 

' Der ist ein echter Schelm,' growled out an old Dantzic 
skipper, ' I kenn him vehr wohl ; steal your wash wid a 
leetle scheer — scissars you call him, ha ! ha ! ' 

'Ladies and gentlemen,' said I, assuming a pose of 
the most dignified importance, ' before entering upon the 
circumstance to which you have so graciously attached 
a little interest, let me assure you — not that the fact can 
or ought to have any weight with this distinguished 
company — that I have no claim upon your sympathy with 
regard to any of the pleas whispered around me. I am 
neither thief, pickpocket, runaway postman, burglar, nor 
highwayman. If I be, as you are pleased to say, "wide 
awake," I believe it is only a common precaution, con- 







-j? 



CON CREGAN 269 

sidering the company I find myself in; and if I really 
could lay claim to the flattering praise of a fair lady on 
the left, it would be merely from accidentally reflecting 
her own bright glances. I present myself, then, with 
much diffidence before you, for the simple reason that I 
come in a character somewhat strange in these parts — I 
am a gentleman ! ' 

The ineffable impertinence of this address succeeded 
to a miracle. Some laughed — some applauded — a few 
muttered an unintelligible discontent ; but the majority 
of the men and all the women were with me, and I saw 
that audacity had gained the day. Ay, and so will it 
ninety-nine times out of the hundred in everything 
through life ! The strategic axiom, that no fortress is 
impregnable, is a valuable worldly lesson, and one ought 
never to forget that a storming party rarely fails. 

'The circumstance to which I alluded a few minutes 
back — I dare not presume to call it a story — occurred thus : 

'There was a large and brilliant party assembled to 
pass the Christmas at the Duke of Y— — 's ; you will under- 
stand my reserve. The company included many of the 
first persons in fashionable life, and a royal duke to boot, 
a great friend of her grace, and some said an old admirer 
of one of her sisters, who — so went the rumour — showed 
the strength of her attachment to his Royal Highness 
by never having accepted any of the brilliant offers of 
marriage made her. She was remarkably beautiful, and 
although a little past the first bloom of youth, in full 
possession of her charms at the time I speak of. Old Lord 
E — — was one of the guests ; and I am sure many of the 
distinguished company to whom I now address myself 
will not need any more particular description of the man 
they must have met a hundred times every London season, 
well known, indeed, as he is, with his light blue coat and 
his buckskin tights, his wide beaver hat and his queue ; 
his eccentricities, his wealth, and his great avarice are 
themes all London is acquainted with.' I paused. 



270 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

A buzz of acknowledgment and recognition followed, 
and I resumed : 

' Lord E , you are aware, was a great musical 

amateur; he was the leader of everything of that kind 
about town ; and whenever he could prevail upon himself 
to open his house in Carlton Terrace, it was always to 
Lablache, and Rubini, and Marini, and the rest of them. 
Well, it was just at the period of this Christmas visit — 
over which I may remark, en passant, Lady Blanche's 
indisposition cast a shade of gloom — that in making some 
alteration in the mansion, they discovered in a concealed 
press in the wall a mahogany case, on opening which were 
found the moth-and-worm-eaten remains of a violin. A 
parchment document, inclosed in a little scroll of brass, 
and which had escaped the ravages of time, explained 
that this was the instrument of the celebrated Giacomo 
Battesta Pizzichetoni, the greatest violinist that ever 
lived — the composer of H Diavolo e la sua Moglie, 
and the Balla di Paradiso, and many other great works, 
with which you are all familiar.' 

The company chorused assent, and I continued : ' The 
party had somehow not gone off well — the accustomed 
spirit and animation of the scene were wanting. Perhaps 
Lady Blanche's illness had some share in this ; in any case, 
every one seemed low and out of sorts, and the pleasant 
people talked of taking leave, when his Royal Highness 
proposed, by way of doing something, that they should 
have a raffle for this wonderful fiddle, of which, though 
only seen by the host and another, every one was 
talking. 

'Even this much of stir was hailed with enthusiasm, 
the secrecy and mystery increasing the interest to a high 
degree. The tickets were two guineas each ; and Lord 

E , dying to possess " a real Pizzichetoni," took twenty 

of them. The number was limited to a hundred, but such 
was the judicious management of those who directed the 
proceedings, that the shares were at a " high premium " on 




mm* 



pa 



% 



3, 




Piz ziclietom's wonderful fiddle. 



CON CREGAN 271 

the day of drawing, his Royal Highness actually buying 
up several at five guineas apiece. The excitement, too, 
was immense ; encyclopaedias were ransacked for histories 
of the violin and its great professors and proficients. The 
Conversations Lexicon opened of itself at the letter P., 
and Pizzichetoni's name turned up in every corner and on 
every theme fifty times a day. What a time I have heard 
that was ! nothing talked of but bow-action, shifting, 
bridging, double fingering, and the like, from morning to 

night. Lord E became, in consequence of this run 

about a favourite subject, a personage of more than 
ordinary importance; instead of being deemed, what he 
was commonly called at the clubs, the Great " Borassus," 
he was listened to with interest and attention; and, in 
fact, from the extent of his knowledge of the subject, and 
his acquaintance with every detail of its history, each felt 
that to his lordship ought by right to fall the fortunate 
ticket. 

' So did it, in fact, turn out. After much vacillation, 
with the last two numbers remained the final decision. 

One belonged to the royal duke, the other to Lord E . 

"You shall have a hundred guineas for your chance, 
E ," said the duke, " what say you ? " 

' " Your Royal Highness's wish is a command," said he, 
bowing and blushing ; " but were it otherwise, and to any 
other than your Royal Highness, I should as certainly say 
nay." 

' " Then ' nay ' must be the answer to me also ; I cannot 
accept of such a sacrifice. And, after all, you are much 
more worthy of such a treasure than I am — I really only 
meant it for a present to Mori." 

' " A present, your Royal Highness ! " cried he, horrified ; 
"I wouldn't give such a jewel to anything short of St. 
Cecilia — the violin, you are aware, was her instrument." 

' " Now, then, for our fortunes ! " cried the duke, as he 
drew forth his ticket ; " I believe I 'm the lucky one — this 
is number 2000." 



272 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

' " Two thousand and one ! " exclaimed Lord E , hold- 
ing up his, and in an ecstasy of triumph sat down to 
recover himself. 

'"Here is the key, my lord," said one of the party, 
advancing towards him. 

' He sprang up, and thrust it into the lock ; in his 
agitation he shook the box, and a slight soft cadence, like 
a faint cry, was heard. 

' " The soul of music hovers o'er it still ! " he exclaimed 
theatrically, and flinging back the lid discovered — Me! 
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, in a very smart white robe, 
with very tasty embroidery, and a lace cap, which I am 
assured was pure Valenciennes, there I lay! I am not 
aware whether my infantine movements were peculiarly 
seductive or not ; but I have been told that I went through 
my gamut at a key that even overtopped the laughter 
around me. 

' " A very bad jest — a mauvaise plaisanterie of the worst 

taste, I must say," said Lord E , turning away and 

leaving the room. 

' I never rightly knew how the matter was afterwards 
made up, but certainly it was by his lordship's directions, 
and at his charge, that I was nursed, reared, and educated. 
My expenses at Eton and Oxford, as well as the cost of 
my commission, came from him ; and it was only a few 
days ago, on learning his death, that I also learned the 
termination of my good fortune in life. He bequeathed 
me what he styled my " family mansion " — the fiddle-case, 
thus repaying by this cruel jest the practical joke passed 
upon himself so many years before.' 

' What name did they give you, sir ? ' 

'I was called after the celebrated violinist of Cre- 
mona, who lived in the seventh century, who was named 
Cornelius Crejanus, or, as some spell, Creganus; and, in 
compliance with modern usages, they anglicised me into 
Con Cregan.' 

'I have the honour to propose Con Cregan's health,' 



CON CREGAN 273 

said the president ; • and may he see many happy years 
ere he next goes to sleep in a wooden box ! ' 

This very gratifying toast was drunk with the most 
flattering acclamations, and I descended from the tribune 
the ' man of the evening.' 

If some of the company who put credence in my story 
did not hesitate to ascribe a strong interest in me to 
the royal duke himself, others, who put less faith in my 
narrative, thought less of my parentage and more of my- 
self, so that what I lost on one hand I gained on the other. 

There was a discretion, a certain shadowy prudery 
about certain portions of my story, of which I have not 
attempted to convey any notion here, but which I saw had 
■ told ' with the fair part of my audience, who, possibly not 
over rigid in many of their opinions, were well pleased 
with the delicate reserve in which I shrouded my direct 
allusion to my parentage. A rough, red- whiskered skipper, 
indeed, seemed disposed to pour a broadside into this 
mystery, by asking, • If his Royal Highness never took any 
notice of me ? ' but the refined taste of the company con- 
curred in the diplomatic refusal to answer a question of 
which the ' hon. gentleman on the straw chair ' had given 
' no notice.' 

The pleasures of the table — a very luscious bowl of the 
liquid which bore the mysterious epithet of ' Thumbo-rig,' 
and which was a concoction of the genus punch, spiced, 
sugared, and iced to a degree that concealed its awful 
tendency to anti-Mathewism — bright eyes that were no 
churls of their glances — merry converse, and that wondrous 
'magnetism of the board,' which we call good-fellowship 
— made the time pass rapidly. Toasts and sentiments of 
every fashion went round, and we were political, liter- 
ary, arbitrary, amatory, sentimental, and satiric by turns. 
They were pleasant varlets ! and in their very diversity of 
humours there was that clash and collision of mind and 
metal that tell more effectively than the choicest party of 
wits who ever sat and watched each other. 
13 s 



274 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

Then, there was a jolly jumbling up of bad English, bad 
Dutch, bad French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese, that 
would drive a sober listener clean mad. Stories begun in 
one tongue merged into another, and so into a third, 
while explanations, mistakes, and corrections ran along- 
side of the narrative, often far more amusing than the 
story to which they were attached. Personalities, too, 
abounded, but with a most unqualified good temper ; and 
on the whole I never beheld a merrier set. 

M. Palamede alone did not relish the scene. He him- 
self was nobody at such a moment, and he longed for the 
ball-room and the dance ; and it was only after repeated 
summonses of his bell that we at last arose and entered 
the saloon, where we found him standing, fiddle in hand, 
while, rapping smartly a couple of times with his bow, he 
called out — 

' Places ! places ! Monsieur le Due de Gubbins, to your 
place. Ladies, I beg attention. Madame la Marquise, dans 
la bonne societe on ne donne jamais un soufiiet.' 

' Ah, here 's old Rosin again ! ' cried several of the party, 
who, with all this familiarity, appeared to view him with 
no small respect. 

' Shall I find you a partner, Monsieur de Congreganne ? ' 
said he to me. 

1 Thanks,' said I ; ' but, with your permission, 1 11 not 
dance just yet.' 

' As you please ; it is but a contre-danse,' said he, shrugg- 
ing his shoulders, while he moved away to arrange the 
figures. 

I had not perceived before that a kind of orchestra, 
consisting of two fiddles, a flute, and a tambourine, was 
stationed in a long gallery over the door by which we 
entered, Monsieur Palamede being, however, director, 
not alone of the music, but of the entire entertainment. 
The band now struck up a well-known English country- 
dance, and away went the couples, flying down the 
room to the merry measure, Monsieur de Rosanne 



CON CREGAN 275 

arranging the figures, beating the time, preserving order, 
and restraining irregularities with the energy of one 
possessed. 

'Ah, Monsieur le Captaine de Cocks, e'en est trop. 
Mademoiselle de Spicer, pas si haut ! de arms graceful ! 
Ladies, no keep your hands under your — what ye call him 
— jupe — apron — ha! ha! Black man — negro — no talk so 
loud when you make punch ! ' 

' Chassez — balancez ! La grace ! Madame la Marquise, 
la grace!' Then, as he passed me, he muttered with a 
voice guttural from anger, ' Quel supplice ! ' 

As I continued to gaze on the scene, I could not help 
being struck with the extreme diversity of look and 
expression ; for while there were some faces on which 
iniquity had laid its indelible stamp, there were others 
singularly pleasing, and some actually beautiful. Among 
the men, the same character prevailed throughout — a rude, 
coarse good-humour — the sailor-type everywhere ; but a 
few seemed persons of a higher class, and on these a life 
of vice and debauchery had produced the most marked 
change, and you could still see, amid the traces of nights 
of riot and abandonment, the remnant of finer features, 
the expression they had worn before their ' fall.' If I was 
surprised at the good looks of many of the women, still 
more was I by a gracefulness of carriage and an air of 
deportment that seemed as much out of place as they 
were unsuited to such companionship. One young fellow 
appeared to be a general favourite with the company. 
He was tall, well-made, and had that indescribably rakish 
character about his very gesture that is rarely a bad 
indication of the possessor's mode of life. I had no 
difficulty in learning his name, for every one called him 
by it at each instant, and ' Fred Falkoner ' was heard on 
all sides. It was he who selected the music for the dance ; 
his partner, for the time being, was the belle of the room, 
and he lounged about supreme. Nor was his title a bad 
one — he was the great entertainer of the whole assembly. 



276 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

The refreshments were almost entirely of his ordering, and 
the clink of his dollars might be heard keeping merry time 
with the strains of the violins. I watched him with some 
interest — I thought I could see that, in descending to 
such companionship, there was a secret combat between 
his self-respect and a strange passion for seeing life in low 
places, which, when added to the flattery such a man 
invariably obtains from his inferiors, is a dangerous and 
subtle temptation. The more I studied him the stronger 
grew this conviction ; nay, at times the expression of scorn 
upon his handsome features was legible even to the least 
remarking. It was while I still continued to watch him 
that he passed me, with a dark Spanish-looking girl upon 
his arm, when he turned round suddenly, and staring at me 
fixedly a few seconds, said, ' We met once before to-day ! ' 

' I am not aware of it,' said I doubtingly. 

'Yes, yes. I never forget a face, least of all when it 
resembles yours. I saw you this morning at the Picayune.' 

' True ; I was there.' 

'What a precious set of rascals those fellows were. 
You supposed that they were going to join the expedition. 
Not a bit of it. Some were gamblers — the greater number 
thieves and pickpockets. I know them all ; and, indeed, I 
was going to warn you about them, for I saw you were a 
stranger, but I lost sight of you in the crowd. But there 's 
the music. Will you have a partner ? ' 

'With all my heart,' said I, glad to encourage our 
further acquaintance. 

' You speak Spanish ? ' 

' Not a word.' 

'Well, no matter. If you did, you should have mine 
here. But what say you to Mademoiselle Heloise, yonder ? 
— a bit faded or so ; but I remember her second " Ballarina " 
at the Havannah, only two years back.' 

I made the suitable acknowledgment; and the next 
moment saw me whirling away in a waltz, at least in 
such an approximation to that measure as my Quebec 



CON CREGAN 277 

experience suggested, with a very highly rouged and black- 
eyebrowed danseuse. My French was better than my 
dancing, and so Mademoiselle Heloise was satisfied to 
accept my arm, while we paraded the room, discussing 
the company after the most approved fashion. 

The French have a proverb, ' Bete comme une danseuse,' 
and I must say that my fair friend did not prove an excep- 
tion. Her whole idea of life was limited to what takes 
place in rehearsal of a morning, or on the night of repre- 
sentation. She recounted to me her history from the time 
she had been a ' Rat ' — such is the technical at the Grand 
Opera of Paris — flying through the air on a wire, or sitting 
perilously perched upon a pasteboard cloud. Thence she 
had advanced to the state of Fairy Queen, or some winged 
messenger of those celestials who wear muslin trousers 
with gold stars, and always stand in the 'fifth position.' 
Passing through the grade of Swiss peasant, Turkish slave, 
and Neapolitan market-girl, she had at last arrived at the 
legitimate drama of 'legs,' yclept ballet d 'action; and 
although neither her beauty nor abilities had been suffi- 
cient to achieve celebrity in Paris, she was accounted a 
Taglioni in the ' provinces,' and deemed worthy of exporta- 
tion to the colonies. 

' Non contigit quique adire Corinthiam ! ' we cannot all 
have our loges at the Grand Opera, and happy for us 
it is so, or what would become of the pleasure we derive 
from third, fourth, and fifth-rate performances elsewhere. 
True, indeed, if truffles were a necessary of life, there 
would be a vast amount of inconvenience and suffering. 
Now Mademoiselle Heloise, whose pirouettes were no more 
minded in Paris nor singled out for peculiar favour than 
one of the lamps in the row of footlights, was a kind of 
small idol in the Havannah. She had the good fortune to 
live in an age when the heels take precedence of the head, 
and she shared in the enthusiasm by which certain people 
in our day would bring back the heathen mythology for 
the benefit of the corps de ballet. 



278 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

Alas for fame ! in the very climax of her glory she 
grew fat! Now flesh to a danseuse is like cowardice to 
a soldier, or shame to a lawyer — it is the irreconcilable 
quality. The gauzy natures who float to soft music must 
not sup. Every cutlet costs an entrechat I Hard and 
terrible condition of existence, and proving how difficult 
and self-denying a thing it is to be an angel, even in this 
world ! 

So much for Mademoiselle Heloise ; and if the reader be 
weary of her, so was I. 

'You'll have to treat her to a supper,' whispered 
Falkoner, as he passed me. 

'I've not a cent in my purse,' said I, thinking it 
better to tell the truth than to incur the reproach of 
stinginess. 

' Never mind — take mine,' said he, as he dropped a very 
weighty purse into my coat-pocket, and moved away 
before I could make any answer. 

Perhaps the greatest flattery an individual can receive 
is to win some acknowledgment of confidence from an utter 
stranger. To know that by the chance intercourse of a 
few minutes you have so impressed another, who never 
saw you before, that he is impelled at once to befriend 
you, your self-esteem so pleasantly gratified immedi- 
ately reacts upon the cause, and you are at a loss whether 
most to applaud your own good gifts, or the ready-witted- 
ness of him who appreciated them so instantaneously. 

I was still hesitating, revolving, doubtless, the pleasant 
sense of flattery aforesaid, when Falkoner came flying past 
with his partner. ' Order supper for four,' cried he, as he 
whizzed by. 

' What does he say, mon cher comte ? ' said my partner. 

I translated the command, and found that the notion 
pleased her vastly. 

The dining-room by this time had been metamorphosed 
into a kind of coffee-room, with small supper-tables, at 
which parties were already assembling ; and here we now 



CON CREGAN 279 

took our places, to con over the bill of fare, and discuss 
scolloped oysters, cold lobster, devilled haddock, and other 
like delicacies. 

Falkoner soon joined us, and we sat down, the merriest 
knot in the room. I must have been brilliant ! I feel it so 
this hour ; a kind of warm glow rushes to my cheeks as I 
think over that evening, and how the guests from the 
different parts of the room grew gradually nearer and 
nearer to listen to the converse at our table, and hear the 
smart things that came pattering down like hail ! What 
pressing invitations came pouring in upon me ! The great 
Mastodon himself could not have eaten a tithe of the 
breakfasts to which I was asked, nor would the grog-tub 
of a seventy-four contain all the rum-and-water I was 
proffered by skippers lying ' in dock.' 

Falkoner, however, pleased me more than the rest. 
There was something in his cordiality that did not seem 
like a passing fancy; and I could not help feeling that 
however corrupted and run to waste by dissipation, there 
was good stuff about him. He interested me, too, on 
another score; he had formerly made one of a Texan 
excursion that had penetrated even to the Rio del Norte, 
and his escapes and adventures amused me highly. The 
ladies, I believe, at last found us very ungallant cavaliers, 
for they arose and left us talking over prairie life and the 
wild habits of the chase, till day began to shine through 
the windows. 

'The Christobal sails to-morrow,' said he, 'for Gal- 
veston ; but even she, smart sailer that she is, will scarce 
arrive in time to catch these fellows. Here we are at the 
fifth of the month ; the eighth was to be the start ; then, 
that, supposing you to reach Galveston by the seventh, 
gives you no time to get your kit ready, look after arms, 
and buy a nag. What say you, then, if we make a party 
of our own ? — charter one of these small craft — a hundred 
dollars or so will do it. We can then take our time to pick 
up good cattle, look out for a couple of mules for our 



280 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

baggage, and a spare mustang or so, if a horse should 
knock up.' 

I concurred at once; the plan was fascination itself. 
Adventure, liberty, novelty, enterprise, and a dash of 
danger to heighten all. Falkoner talked of dollars as if 
they macadamised the road to St. Louis ; and I, glowing 
with punch and pride together, spoke of the expense as 
a mere trifle. To this hour I cannot say whether I had 
really mystified myself into the notion that I possessed 
ample means, or was merely indulging the passing pleasure 
of a delightful vision. So was it, however; I smiled at 
the cheapness of everything, could scarcely fancy such a 
thing as a Mexican pony for eighty dollars, and laughed 
actually laughed, at the price of the rifle, when all my 
worldly substance at the moment would not have pur- 
chased copper caps for it. 

'Don't go too expensively to work, Cregan,' cried he; 
' and, above all, bring no European servant. A Mexican 
fellow — or, better still, a half-breed — is the thing for the 
prairies. You have to forget your Old- World habits, and 
rough it.' 

' So I can,' said I, laughing good-humouredly ; ' I 'm 
in a capital mind for a bit of sharp work too. Just 
before I left the 90th we made a forced march from St. 
John's, through the forest country, and I feel up to any- 
thing.' 

' You 11 not like the cattle at first, I 'm afraid,' said he ; 
• they have that racking action the Yankees are fond of. 
There is a capital mare at Galveston, if we could get her. 
These fellows will snap her up most likely.' 

' Butcher's mare,' said I, hazarding a guess. 

'Ah! you've been looking after her already,' said he, 
surprised. 'Well, to tell you the truth, that was one of 
my objects in coming here to-night. I heard that some of 
these skipper fellows had got the winning ticket ; I paid 
twenty dollars to the office-clerk to see the number, and 
determined to buy it up. Here it is. Can you read these 



CON CREGAN 281 

figures? for, hang me, if the punch, or the heat, or the 
dancing has not made me quite dizzy.' 

' Let me see ; Number 438,' said I, repeating it a couple 
of times over. 

' Yes, that is it. If I could have chanced on it, I 'd have 
run down to-morrow by the Christobal. She lies about a 
mile out, and will weigh with the ebb at eight o'clock. 
That mare — she killed Butcher by a down leap over a rock, 
but never scratched herself — is worth at least a thousand 
dollars.' 

'I offered eight hundred for her on mere character,' 
said I, sitting back and sipping my liquid with a most pro- 
found quietude. 

Falkoner was evidently surprised with this announce- 
ment, but more so from the rakish indifference it 
betrayed about money than as bespeaking me rich and 
affluent. 

And thus we chatted away, till the black waiter made 
his appearance to open the windows and prepare for the 
work of the day. 

' Where are you stopping ? ' said Falkoner, as we arose 
from the table. 

' At " Condor House," ' said I, boldly giving the name of 
a very flash hotel. ' But it 's too noisy ; I don't like it.' 

' Nor do I. It 's confoundedly expensive too. I wish 
you would come to Herrick's ; it is not quite so stylish 
perhaps, but I think the cookery is better, and you'd 
not pay five dollars a bottle for Madeira, and eight for 
Champagne.' 

' That is smart,' said I. ' They 've not let me have my 
bill yet, but I fancied they were costly folk.' 

' Well, come and dine with me at Herrick's to-morrow 
and decide for yourself.' 

' Why not try the " Condor " with me ? ' said I. 

' Another day, with all my heart, but I have a friend to- 
morrow, so come and meet him at six o'clock.' 

I agreed; and then we chatted on about London and 



282 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

town folks, in a way that, even with all I had drunk, 
amazed me for the cool impudence in which I indulged. 

' You knew De Courcy, of course,' said he, after a long 
run of mutual friends had been disposed of. 

'Jack?' cried I — 'Jack De Courcy of the Coldstreams 
—yes, I think I did. Jack and I were like brothers. The 
last steeplechase I rode in Ireland was for poor Jack De 
Courcy — a little chestnut mare with a good deal of the 
Arab about her.' 

' I remember her well — an active devil, but she couldn't 
go for more than half a mile.' 

' Well, I managed to screw a race out of her.' 

' You must tell me all about that to-morrow, for I find 
my unfortunate head is like a bell with the vibration of 
the last stroke of the hammer on it. Don't forget, to- 
morrow, sharp six. You '11 meet nobody but Broughton,' 

' Dudley — Sir Dudley Broughton ? ' 

' The same. You know him, then, already ? Poor fellow ! 
he 's terribly cut up ; but he '11 be glad to see an old friend. 
Have you been much together ? ' 

' A great deal. I made a cruise with him in his yacht, 
the Firefly.' 

' What a rare piece of fortune to have met you ! ' cried 
Falkoner, as he shook my hand once more. And so, with 
the most fervent assurances of meeting on the morrow, we 
parted, he to saunter slowly towards his hotel, and I to 
stand in the middle of the street, and, as I wiped the 
perspiration from my brow, to ask myself, had I gone 
clean mad. 

I was so overwhelmed by the shock of my own im- 
pudence that I stood where Falkoner left me for full five 
minutes, motionless and spell-bound. To have boasted of 
my intimacy with Captain De Courcy, although the 
Atlantic rolled between us, was bad enough in all con- 
science; but to have talked of Sir Dudley — the haughty, 
insolent, overbearing Sir Dudley Broughton — as 'my old 
friend,' was something that actually appalled me. How 



CON CREGAN 283 

could my vain boastfulness have so far got the better of 
my natural keenness? how could my silly self-sufficiency 
have carried me so far ? ' Ah ? ' thought I, ' it was not the 
real Con Cregan who spoke such ineffable folly: these 
were the outpourings of that diabolical "Thumbo-rig."' 

While, therefore, I entered into a bond with myself to 
eschew that insidious compound in future, I also adopted 
the far more imminent and important resolve, to run 
away from New Orleans. Another sun must not set upon 
me in that city, come what might. With a shudder I 
called to mind Sir Dudley's own avowal of his passion as 
a hater, and I could not venture to confront such danger. 

I accordingly hastened to my miserable lodging, and 
packing up my few clothes, now reduced to the compass 
of a bundle in a handkerchief, I paid my bill, and on a 
minute calculation of various pieces of strange coinage, 
found myself the possessor of four dollars and a quarter 
— a small sum, and something less than a cent for every 
ten miles I was removed from my native land. What 
meant the term 'country,' after all, to such as me? 
He has a country who possesses property in it — whose 
interests tie him to the soil, where his name is known, 
and his presence recognised ; but what country belongs to 
him where no resting-place is found for his weary feet — 
whose home is an inn, whose friends are the fellow- 
travellers with whom he has journeyed? The ties of 
country, like those of kindred, are superstitions — high 
and holy ones sometimes, but still superstitions. Believe 
in them, if you can, and so much the better for you ; but 
in some hour the conviction will come that man is of 
every land. 

Thus pondering, I trudged along at a smart pace, 
my bundle on a stick over my shoulder, never noticing 
the road, and only following the way because it seemed to 
lead out of the city. It was a gorgeous morning ; the sun 
glittered on the bright roofs, and lit up the gay terraces of 
the houses, where creepers of every tint and foliage were 



284 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

tastefully entwined and festooned, as these people knew 
so well to dispose. Servants were opening windows, dis- 
playing handsomely furnished rooms, replete with every 
luxury, as I passed ; busy housemaids were brushing, and 
sweeping, and polishing ; and shining niggers were beating 
carpets and shaking hearth-rugs, while others were raking 
the gravel before the doors, or watering the rich magnolias 
and cactuses that stood sentinel beneath the windows. 
Carriages, too, were being washed, and high-bred horses 
standing out to be groomed — all signs of wealth, and of 
the luxuries of the rich men, whose close-drawn curtains 
portended sleep. 'Ay,' thought I, 'there are hundreds 
here whose weightiest evil would be that they awoke an 
hour earlier than their wont — that their favourite Arab 
had stood on a sharp stone — that some rude branch had 
scratched the rich varnish on their chariot ; while I 
wander along, alone and friendless, my worldly substance 
a few dollars.' This disparity of condition of course 
occurs to the mind of every poor man, but it only is a 
canker to him who has had a glimpse, be it ever so 
fleeting, of a life of luxury and ease. For this reason, the 
servant-class will always be a great source of danger to 
our present social condition: seeing the weakness, the 
folly, and sometimes the worse than folly of those they 
serve — viewing, from a near point, the interior lives of 
those who, seen from afar, are reckoned great and 
illustrious, they loose the prestige of respect for the dis- 
tinguishing qualities of station, and only yield it to the 
outward symbols — the wealth and riches. What socialists 
are our butlers? what democrats our footmen! what 
red republicans are our cooks ! what a leveller is the 
gardener! For all your 'yellow plush,' you are sans- 
culottes, every man of you. 

Now, I deem it a high testimony to my powers of 
judgment that I never entertained these views. On the 
contrary, I always upheld the doctrine, that society, like 
a broken thigh-bone, did best on an ' inclined plane ' ; and 



CON CREGAN 285 

I repudiated equality with the scorn a man six feet high 
would feel were he told that the human standard was to 
be four and a half. The only grudge I did feel towards 
the fortunate man of wealth was, that I should lose so 
many brilliant years of life in acquiring — for acquire it I 
would — what I would far rather employ in dispensing. A 
guinea at twenty is worth a hundred at thirty, a thousand 
at forty, a million at sixty — that's the geometrical mean 
of life. Glorious youth ! that only needs ' debentures ' to 
be divine ! 

My head became clearer and my brain more unclouded 
as I walked along in the free air of the morning, and I 
felt that with a cigar I should both compose my vagrant 
fancies and cheat myself out of the necessity of a break- 
fast. Excellent weed ! that can make dulness imaginative 
and imagination plodding ; that renders stupid men com- 
panionable to clever ones, and gives a meek air of thought 
to the very flattest insipidity ! 

I searched my pocket for the little case that contained 
my Manillas, but in vain; I tried another — like result. 
How was it ? I always carried it in my greatcoat ; had I 
been robbed ? I could not help laughing at the thought, 
it sounded so ineffably comic. I essayed again, alas ! with 
no better success. Could I have placed it in the breast- 
pocket? What! there is no breast-pocket! How is this, 
Con ? has Thumbo-rig its influence over you yet ? I 
passed my hand across my brow, and tried to remember 
if the breast-pocket had only been a tradition of another 
coat, or what had become of it. Pockets do not close from 
being empty, like county banks, nor do they dry up, like 
wells, from disuse. 

' No, no ; there certainly was once one here.' As I said 
this, what was my amazement to find that the pocket for 
which I had been searching had changed sides, and gone 
from left to right ! ' Oh, this is too bad ! ' thought I ; ' with 
a little more punch, I could have fancied that I had put 
my coat on wrong-sided. Here is a mystery ! ' said I, • and 



286 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

now, to solve it patiently ' ; and so I sat me down by the 
wayside, and laying my bundle on the ground, began to 
reflect. 

Reflection, I soon found, was of no use. Habit — the 
instinct of custom— showed me that my pocket had always 
been to the left ; my right hand sought the spot with an 
almost mechanical impulse, whereas my left wandered 
about like a man in search of his newly taken lodging. 
As I came to this puzzling fact, my fingers, deeply im- 
mersed in the pocket, came in contact with a small leather 
case. I drew it forth ; it was not mine — I had never seen 
it before! I opened it; there was nothing within but a 
small piece of card, with the words, ' Full Share Ticket,' on 
top, and, underneath, the figures ' 438.' 

From the card my eyes reverted to the coat itself ; and 
now I saw, with a surprise I cannot convey, that it was 
not my own coat but another man's I was wearing. The 
negro at the ordinary had assisted me to put it on. It 
was the only one, indeed, remaining as I came away, and 
some other had carried off mine. So far, it was a fair 
exchange, of which I was not in any way accountable, 
seeing that I performed a mere passive part, taking — 
and even that unwillingly — what was left me. Certain 
threadbare symptoms about the cuffs, and a missing 
button or two, also showed me that I was no gainer by 
the barter. Was it worth while to go back? were the 
chances of recovering my own equal to the risk of being 
myself discovered ? I thought not. It was decidedly a 
shabby investment ; and, now that I examined it more 
closely, a very miserable substitute for my own. I was 
vexed at the occurrence, and could not help reflecting, in 
very severe terms, upon the breach of honour such an act 
displayed. 'Lie down with dogs' — Master Con, says the 
adage — ' and see if you don't get up with fleas ! ' • Such 
company as you passed the evening with were assuredly 
not above a piece of roguery like this.' Falkoner it could 
not be ; and I own that I was glad to know that, since he 



CON CREGAN 287 

was much taller than me ; nor could I remember one who 
was near enough my own size to make me suppose him 
the culprit ; and so I ended by attributing the knavery to 
the negro, who probably had kept this ancient vestment 
for a moment of substitution. 

It may be inferred, from the difficulty of solution in the 
case of this very simple occurrence, that my faculties were 
not pre-eminently clear and lucid, and that the vapour of 
the Thumbo-rig still hung heavily over me ; such, I am 
bound to own, was the fact. Every event of the previous 
night was as shadowy and imperfect as might be. It was 
only during the last half-hour of my conversation with 
Falkoner that I was completely conscious of all said 
and done around me. Previous to this, my mind had 
established a kind of provisional government over my 
rebellious ideas, and, like most such bodies, its edicts had 
little force, for they were based on but a weak prestige. 

Now, then, came a question of this strange-looking 
piece of card, with the numbers on which, by some 
wonderful process, I seemed to be perfectly familiar — 
nay, I felt that they were, from some hidden cause, re- 
corded facts in my memory. All I could remember of 
the night before threw little light upon the matter, and 
I wondered on, striving to pierce the dull mist of un- 
certainty that enveloped all my thoughts. By this time 
I had reached the bank of the river, and could perceive 
about half a mile off, down the stream, a tall-masted 
smack getting ready for sea — her blue-Peter fluttered at 
the mast-head, and the pleasant ye-ho ! of the sailors kept 
time with the capstan-bars as they heaved at the anchor. 
The wind was a nor'-wester, and beat with impatient 
gusts the loose canvas that hung ready to be shaken out, 
while the stream rushed rapidly along her sides. 

'Would I were to sail in you, wherever your voyage 
tended ! ' was my exclamation ; and I sat down to watch 
the preparations, which the loud commands of the skipper 
seemed to hasten and press forward. So occupied was I 



288 THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 

with the stir and bustle on board the craft, where every- 
thing was done with a lightning-speed, that I did not 
remark a boat's crew, who sat leaning on their oars 
beside the wall of the stream ; and it was only when an 
accidental sound of their voices struck me that I saw 
them. 

' That 's a signal to come away, Ben ! ' said one of the 
men. ' He '11 not wait no longer ! ' 

1 And why should he lose a tide for any land-lubber of 
them all ? It 's not every day, besides, we get a nor'-wester 
like this!' 

'Well! what d'ye mean to do?' asked the former 
speaker. 

'Give him ten minutes more, Ben,' cried another. 
' Let 's have a chance of a dollar apiece, anyhow ! ' 

'There goes a shot!' said the man called Ben, as he 
pointed to the smack, from whose bow-port the smoke 
was lazily issuing. ' I '11 not stay here any longer ! shove 
her away, lads ! ' 




ON BOARD OF THE ' CHRISTOBAL ' 

J I ITHOUT further delay the men 
prepared to obey the summons. 
The boat's chain was cast off, and, 
as she swung out from the wall, I could see a small 
standard at her stern, carrying a little white flag, which, 
as the breeze wafted towards me, showed the enigmatical 
numbers 438. 

I sprang to my legs and uttered a cry of surprise. 

'Well! what is it, master?' said Ben, looking up, and 
probably expecting to see me take a header into the muddy 
stream. 

' That 's the number ! ' cried I, not knowing what I said. 
' That 's the very number ! ' 

' Very true, master, so it is ! but you ha'n't got the 
counterpart, I guess ! ' 

' Yes, but I have, though ! ' said I, producing the ticket 
from the pocket-book. 

' Why, darn me, if that ain't himself ! ' cried the men ; 
and they sung out three hearty cheers at the discovery. 
13 T 



290 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

1 Were you there long, old fellow ? ' said Ben. 

' About half an hour,' said I. 

' Tarnation ! and why did ye keep us a-waitin' ? didn't 
you see the tide was on the ebb, and that Christy was 
making signals every five minutes or so ? ' 

' I was waiting — waiting ' 

' Waiting for what ? I 'd like to know.' 

' Waiting for my baggage ! ' said I, taking a long 
breath.' 

' An' it ain't come yet ? ' 

' No ; I 'm afraid they missed the road.' 

' Be that as it may, master, 1 11 not stay longer. Come 
along without your kit, or stay behind with it, whichever 
you please.' 

' Hang the traps ! ' said I, affecting a bold carelessness ; 
'I've a few things there I left out loose, that will do. 
When shall we be there?' This was a leading question, 
for I did not yet know whither we were bound. 

' At Galveston ? Well, to-morrow evening or by night- 
fall, I guess, if the wind hold. Sit down there and make 
yourself snug; there's always a little splash of a sea in 
this river. And now, lads, pull away ! all together.' 

A second shot from the smack announced that her 
anchor was tripped, and we saw her now lurch over as 
her foresail filled. 

The men pulled vigorously, and in about twenty 
minutes I stood upon the deck of the Christobal, making 
sundry excuses to her skipper for being late," and assuring 
him, on the faith of a gentleman, that I had utterly 
forgotten all about my voyage till the last moment. 

' They only sent me the number from the office late last 
night,' said he, ' and told me to look out for the gemman 
about the docks. But I warn't goin' to do that, I said. 
He 's got a passage and grub to Galveston — as good as ere 
a gemman can desire ; he 's won a nag they says is worth 
seven or eight hundred dollars, with furniture and arms 
for the new expedition ; and I take it them things is worth 



CON CREGAN 291 

a-looking arter — so darn me blue if I gives myself no 
trouble about 'em.' 

These scattered hints were all I wanted. The sea- 
breeze had restored me to my wonted clearness, and I 
now saw that ' 438 ' meant that I had won a free passage 
to Texas, a horse and a rifle when I got there; so far 
the 'exchange of coats' was 'with a difference.' It was 
with an unspeakable satisfaction that I learned I was 
the only passenger on board the Christobal. The other 
' gentlemen ' of the expedition had either already set out 
or abandoned the project, so that I had not to undergo 
any unpleasant scrutiny into my past life, or any im- 
pertinent inquiry regarding my future. 

Old Kit Turrel, the skipper, did not play the grand 
inquisitor on me. His life had been for the most part 
passed in making the voyage to and from New Orleans 
and Galveston, where he had, doubtless, seen sufficient 
of character to have satisfied a glutton in eccentricity. 
There was not a runaway rogue, or abandoned vagabond, 
that had left the coast for years back with whose history 
he was not familiar. You had but to give him a name, 
and out came the catalogue of his misdeeds on the 
instant. 

These revelations had a prodigious interest for me. 
They opened the book of human adventure at the very 
chapter I wanted. It was putting a keen edge upon 
the razor to give me the 'last fashions in knavery' 
— not to speak of the greater advantage of learning the 
success attendant on each, since 'Kit' could tell precisely 
how it fared with every one who had passed through 
his hands. 

He enlightened me also as to these Texan expeditions, 
which, to use his own phrase, had never been anything 
better than 'almighty swindles,' planted to catch young 
flats from the north country, the southerns being all too 
' crank ' to be done. 

» And is there no expedition in reality ? ' said I, with all 



292 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

the horror of a man who had been seduced from home, 
and family, and friends under false pretences. 

' There do be a dash now and then into the Camanche 
trail, when buffaloes are plenty, or to bring down a stray 
buck or so. Mayhap, too, they cut off an Injun fellow or 
two, if he lingers too late in the fall ; and then they come 
back with wonderful stories of storming villages, and 
destroying war parties, and the rest of it ; but we knows 
better. Most of 'em ere chaps are more used to picklocks 
than rifles, and can handle a " jemmy " better than a 
" bowie-knife." ' 

'And in the present case what kind of fellows are 
they?' 

He rolled a tobacco quid from side to side of his mouth, 
and seemed to hesitate whether he would speak out. 

' There is no danger with me, captain ; I am an English- 
man, a perfect stranger here, and have never seen or heard 
of a man amongst them.' 

'I see that,' said he, 'and your friends must be rank 
green 'uns to let you go and join this trail — that's a 
fact.' 

' But what are they ? ' 

' Well, they call 'emselves horse - dealers ; but above 
Austin there, and along by Bexar, they call 'em horse- 
stealers ! ' and he laughed heartily at the excessive drollery 
of the remark. 

' And where do they trade with their cattle ? ' 

'They sells 'em here, or up in the States away north 
sometimes, but they picks up the critters along the 
Chehuhua Line, or down by Aguaverde, or San Pueblo. 
I've known 'em to go to Mexico, too. When they don't 
get scalped they've rather good fun of it; but they 
squabble a bit now and then among 'emselves ; and so 
there's a Texan proverb, "that buffalo-meat in spring is 
as rare as a mustang merchant with two eyes ! " ' 

' What does that mean ? ' 

'They gouge a bit down there, they do — that's a fact, 



CON CREGAN 293 

I 've known two or three join the red men, and say Injuns 
was better living with than them 'ere.' 

' I own your picture is not flattering.' 

' Yes, but it be, though ! You don't know them chaps ; 
but I know 'em — ay, for nigh forty year. I 'm a-livin' on 
this 'ere passage, and I've seen 'em all. I knew Bowlin 
Sam, I did ! ' From the manner this was said, I saw that 
Bowlin Sam was a celebrity, to be ignorant of whom was 
to confess one's self an utter savage. 

' To be sure I was only a child at the time ; but I saw 
him come aboard with the negro fellow that he followed 
up the Red River trail. They were two of the biggest 
fellows you could see. Sam stood six feet six-an'-a- 
quarter; the black was six feet four — but he had a 
stoop in his shoulders. Sam tracked him for two years ; 
and many's the dodge they had between 'em; but Sam 
took him at last, and he brought him all the way from 
Guajuaqualla here, bound with his hands behind him, and 
a log of iron-wood in his mouth, for he could tear like 
a jaguar. 

'They were both on 'em ugly men — Sam, very ugly! 
Sam could untwist the strongest links of an iron boat- 
chain, and t' other fellow could bite a man-rope clean in 
two with his teeth. The black ate nothing from the 
time they took him; and when they put him into the 
shore-boat, in the river, he was so weak they had to lift 
him like a child. Well, out they rowed into the middle 
of the stream, where the water is roughest among the 
" snags," and many a whirlpool dashing around 'atween the 
bows of the "sawyers." That's the spot you're sure to 
see one of these young sharks — for the big chaps knows 
better than to look for their wittals in dangerous places 
— while the water is black, at times, with alligators. Well, 
as I was sayin', out they rowed ; and just as they comes 
to this part of the stream, the black fellow gives a spring, 
and drives both his heavy-ironed feet bang through the 
flooring - plank of the boat. It was past bailin'; they 



294 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

were half swamped before they could ship their oars 
the minute after, they were all struggling in the river 
together. There were three besides the nigger; but he 
was the only one ever touched land again. He was an 
Antigua chap, that same nigger; and they knows sharks 
and caymans as we does dog-fish; but for all that, he 
was all bloody, and had lost part of one foot, when 
he got ashore.' 

' Why had he been captured ? what had he done ? ' 

' What hadn't he done ? that same black murdered more 
men as any six in these parts ; he it was burned down 
Checoat's mill up at Brandy Cove, with all the people 
fastened up within. Then he run away to the " washins " 
at Guajuaqualla, where he killed Colonel Rixon, as was over 
the " Placer." He cut him in two with a bowie-knife, and 
never a one guessed how it happened, as the jaguars had 
carried off two or three people from the "washins"; but 
the nigger got drunk one night, and began a-cuttin' down 
the young hemlock-trees, and sayin', " That 's the way I 
mowed down Buckra' Georgy " — his name was George 
Rixon. Then he bolted, and was never seen more. Ah ! 
he was a down-hard 'un ! that fellow Crick.' 

'Crick — Menelaus Crick!' said I, almost springing up 
with amazement as I spoke. 

'Just so. You've heard enough of him 'fore now, I 
guess.' 

The skipper went on to talk about the negro's early 
exploits, and the fearful life of crime which he had 
always pursued, but I heard little of what he said. The 
remembrance of the man himself, bowed down with years 
and suffering, was before me, and I thought how terribly 
murder is expiated, even in those cases where the guilty 
man is believed to have escaped. So is it ; the dock, the 
dungeon, and the gallows can be mercies in comparison 
with the self -torment of eternal fear, the terror of com- 
panionship, or the awful hell of solitude! The scene at 
Anticosti, and the terrific night in the Lower Town of 



CON CREGAN 295 

Quebec, rose both together to my mind, and so absorbed 
my thoughts, that the old skipper, seeing my inattention, 
and believing that I was weary and inclined for sleep, left 
me for the deck ; and I lay still, pondering over these sad 
themes. 

At last I roused myself and went on deck. The city 
had long since disappeared from view, and even the low 
land at the mouth of the river had faded in the dis- 
tance ; while, instead of the yellow polluted flood of the 
Mississippi, the blue waves, shining and sparkling, danced 
merrily past, or broke in foam-sheets at the bow. The 
white sails were bent like boards, firm and immovable 
before the breeze, and the swift vessel darted her way 
onward, as proudly as though her freight were something 
prouder and better than a poor adventurer, without one 
in the wide world who cared whether he won or lost the 
game with Fortune. 

My spirits rose every mile we left New Orleans behind 
us ; I felt, besides, that to bring my skill to such a market 
was but to carry ■ coals to Newcastle ' ; nor, from the 
skipper's account, did Texas offer a much more favourable 
field. However, it smacked of adventure ; the very name 
had a charm for me, and I thought I should far rather 
confront actual danger than live a life of petty schemes 
and small expedients. But, what a strange crucible is the 
human heart ! Here was I, placed in a situation to which 
an incident had elevated me — of a kind which a more 
scrupulous sense of honour would have made some shudder 
at — fancying, ay, and persuading myself too, that, in the 
main, I possessed very admirable sentiments and most 
laudable ambitions — that the occasional little straits to 
which I was reduced were only so many practical jokes 
played on me by Fate, which took, doubtless, a high 
delight in the ingenuity by which I always fell on my feet 
— while I felt certain that, were I only fairly treated, a 
more upright, honourable, straightforward young gentle- 
man never lived than I should prove ! 



296 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

' Let Dame Fortune only deal me trumps,' said I, ' and 
I'll promise never "to look into my neighbour's hand."' 
Gentle reader, you smile at my humility ; well, then, it 's 
clear you are neither a secretary of state nor a railway 
director — that 's all. 

We dropped anchor off Galveston just as the sun was 
setting ; and the evening being calm, and the reflection of 
the houses and steeples in the water sharp and defined, 
the scene was sufficiently striking. The city itself was 
more important as to size and wealth than I had anti- 
cipated, and the office of the Texan Expedition, held at 
the ' Moon,' a great coffee-house on the quay, impressed 
me most favourably with the respectability and preten- 
sions of my co-expeditionaries. Old Kit presented me to 
the secretary — a very knavish-looking fellow in spectacles 
of black gauze — as the winner of the great prize, which, 
to my excessive mortification, I learned was at Houston, 
about eighty miles farther up the Bay. 

I apologised for my careless dress, by stating that my 
baggage had been unfortunately left behind at New 
Orleans, and that in my haste I had been obliged to come 
on board with actually nothing but the few dollars I had 
in my pocket. 

' That 's a misfortune easily repaired, sir,' said the gauze- 
eyed secretary — ' you can have your " credit " cashed here 
just as liberally as at any town in the country.' 

' I have no doubt of that,' responded I, somewhat tartly, 
for I did not fancy this allusion to banks and bankers, 
' but all my papers are in my portmanteau.' 

' Provoking, certainly,' said he, taking a long pinch of 
snuff — ' ain't it, Kit ? ' 

But Kit only scratched his nose, and looked puzzled. 

' Are your bankers Vicars and Bull, sir ? ' 

'No,' said I, 'my credits are all on a northern house; 
but I fancy my name is tolerably well known. You've 
heard of the Cregans, I suppose ? ' 

' Cregan — Cregan,' repeated he a couple of times ; then 



CON CREGAN 297 

opening a huge ledger at the letter C, ran his eye down a 
long column. 'Crabtree — Crossley — Croxam — Crebell — 
Creffet — Cregmore. It is not Cregmore, sir ? ' 

' No ; Cregan is the name.' 

'Ah, well, there's no Cregan. There was a Cregmore 
was lynched here, I see by the mark in the book, and 
we have a small trunk waiting to be claimed belonging to 
him.' 

' That ain't the fellow as purtended to be winner of the 
waggon team that was lotteried here a twelvemonth since, 
is it ? ' said Kit. 

' Yes, but it is, though. He made out he had the ticket 
all right and straight, when up comes one Colonel Jabus 
Harper, and showed the real thing ; and the chaps took it 
up hotly, and they lynched Cregmore that evening.' 

1 Yes, sir, that 's a fact,' quoth Kit. 

'What was the penalty?' asked I, with a most im- 
posing indifference. 

' They hanged him up at Hall's Court yonder. I ain't 
sure if he bean't hanging there still.' 

' And this packet,' said I — for the theme was excessively 
distasteful — ' when does she sail ? ' 

' She starts to-night, at twelve — first cabin, two dollars ; 
steerage, one-twenty.' 

' Thank you,' said I, touching my hat with the con- 
descending air one occasionally employs to humiliate an 
inferior, by its mingled pride and courtesy ; and I turned 
into the street. 

' You ain't a-going to Hall's Court, are you ? ' said Kit, 
overtaking me. 

' Of course not,' responded I indignantly. ' Such sights 
are anything but pleasurable.' 

' He ain't all right,' said Gauze-eyes, as old Kit re- 
entered the office, and I stepped back to listen. 

' Well, I don't know,' muttered the other ; ' I 'm a-think- 
ing it be doubtful, sir. He ha'n't got much clink with him, 
that 's a fact.' 



298 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

'I have half a mind to send Chico up in the boat 
to-night, just to dodge him a bit.' 

' Well, ye might do it,' yawned the other ; • but Chico is 
such an almighty willain that he 11 make him out a rogue 
or a swindler at all events.' 

' Chico is smart, that I do confess,' said the other with 
a grin. 

'And he do look so uncommon like a vagabond, too, 
Chico ; I don't like him.' 

* He can look like anything he pleases, Chico can. I 've 
seen him pass for a Pawnee, and no one ever disciver it.' 

' He 's a rank coward, for all that,' rejoined the skipper ; 
' and he can put no disguise upon that.' 

The sound of feet, indicative of leaving, made me 
hasten from the spot, but in a mood far from comfortable. 
With the fate of" my ingenious predecessor in Hall's 
Court before me, and the small possibility of escaping 
the shrewd investigations of Chico, I really knew not 
what course to follow. The more I reflected, however, 
the less choice was there at my disposal ; the bold line, as 
generally happens, being not a whit more dangerous than 
the timid path, since, were I to abandon my prize, and not 
proceed to Houston, the inevitable Chico would only be 
the more certain to discover me. 

My mind was made up ; and stepping into a shop I 
expended two of my four dollars in the purchase of a 
revolver — second-hand, but an excellent weapon, and 
true as gold. A few cents supplied me with some balls 
and powder ; and, thus provided, I took my way towards 
the wharf where the steamer lay, already making some 
indicative signs of readiness. 

I took a steerage passage ; and, not knowing where or 
how to dispose of myself in the interval before starting, 
I clambered into a boat on deck, and, with my bundle for a 
pillow, fell into a pleasant doze. It was not so much sleep 
as a semi-waking state, that merely dulled and dimmed 
impressions — a frame of mind I have often found very 



CON CREGAN 299 

favourable to thought. One is often enabled to examine 
a question in this wise, as they look at the sun through 
a smoked glass, and observe the glittering object without 
being blinded by its brilliancy. I suppose the time I 
passed in this manner was as near an approach to low 
spirits as I am capable of feeling, for, of regular down- 
right depression, I know as little as did Nelson of fear. 

I bethought me seriously of the scrape in which I 
found myself, and reflected with considerable misgivings 
upon the summary principles of justice in vogue around 
me; and yet the knavery was not of my own seeking. 
Like Falstaff's honour, it was 'thrust upon me.' I was 
innocent of all plot or device. Le diable qui se mele en 
tout — never was there a truer saying — would have it 
that I should exchange coats with another, and that 
this confounded ticket should be the compensation for 
worn seams and absent buttons. 

I have no doubt, thought I, but that ' Honesty is the 
best policy,' pretty much upon the same principle that even 
a dead calm is better than a hurricane. But to him who 
desires progress, on whose heart the word 'onward' is 
written, the calm is lethargy, while the storm may prove 
propitious. I then tried to persuade myself that even this 
adventure could not turn out ill ; not that I could by any 
ingenuity devise how it should prove otherwise, but I 
knew that Fortune is as skilful as she is kind, and so I left 
the whole charge to her. 

Is it my fault, I exclaimed, that I am not rich, and 
well-born, and great ? Show me any one who would have 
enjoyed such privileges more. Is it my fault that, being 
poor, ignoble, and lowly in condition, I have tastes and 
aspirations at war with my situation ? — these ought rather 
to be stimulants to exertion than caprices of Fortune. 
I like the theory better, too. And is it not hard to be 
condemned for the devices I am reduced to employ to 
combat such natural evils? If the prisoner severs his 
fetters with an old nail, it is because he does not possess 



300 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

the luxury of a file or 'cold chisel.' As for me, the 
employment of small and insignificant means is highly 
distasteful : instead of following the lone mountain-path 
on foot, I 'd drive ' life's highroad ' four-in-hand, if I could. 

The furious rush of the escape-steam, the quick coming 
and going of feet, the heavy banging of luggage on the 
deck, and all the other unmistakable signs of approaching 
departure, aroused me, as I lay patiently contemplating 
the bustle of leave-taking, hand-shaking, and embracing, 
in which I had no share. A lantern at the gangway lit up 
each face that passed, and I strained my eyes to mark one, 
the only one, in whom I was interested. As I knew not 
whether the ingenious Ohico were young, old, short, slim, 
fat, or six foot — whether brown or fair, smooth-faced or 
bearded, my observations were necessarily universal, and I 
was compelled to let none escape me. 

At first, each passenger appeared to be ' him,' and 
then, after a few minutes, I gave up the hope of detection. 
There were fellows whose exterior might mean anything 
— large, loose-coated figures, with leather overalls and 
riding-whips, many of them with pistols at their girdles, 
and one or two wearing swords, parading the deck on every 
side. It needed not the accompaniment of horse-gear, 
saddles, holsters, halters, and cavezons, to show that they 
belonged to a fraternity which, in every land of the Old 
World or the New, has a prescriptive claim to knavery. 
Although all of them were natives of the United States, 
neither in their dark-brown complexions, deep moustaches 
and whiskers, and strange gestures, was there any trace 
of that land which we persist in deeming so purely Anglo- 
Saxon. The prairie and the hunting-ground, the life of 
bivouac and the habit of danger, had imparted its 
character to their looks ; and there was, besides, that air 
of swagger and braggadocio so essentially the type of your 
trafficker in horse-flesh. 

If my attention had not been turned to another subject, 
I would willingly have studied a little the sayings and 



CON CREGAN 301 

doings of this peculiar class, seeing that it might yet be 
my lot to form one of the brotherhood ; but my thoughts 
were too deeply interested in discovering Chico, whose 
presence in the same ship with me actually weighed on 
my mind like the terror of a phantom. 

' Can this be he ? ' was the question which arose to my 
heart as figure after figure passed me near where I lay; 
but the careless, indolent look of each passenger as regu- 
larly negatived the suspicion. We were now under weigh, 
steaming along in still water with all the tremendous 
power of our high-pressure engines, which shook the vessel 
as though they would rend its strong framework asunder. 
The night was beautifully calm and mild, and although 
without a moon, the sky sparkled with a thousand stars, 
many of which were of size and brilliancy to throw long 
columns of light across the bay. 

The throb of the great sea monster, as she cleared her 
way through the water, was the only sound heard in the 
stillness ; for, although few had ' gone below,' the groups 
seated about the deck either smoked in silence or talked 
in low, indistinct tones. 

I lay gazing at the heavens, and wondering within my- 
self which of those glittering orbs above me was gracious 
enough to preside over the life and adventures of Con 
Cregan; 'some dim, indistinct, little spangle it must be,' 
thought I — 'some forgotten planet of small reputation, 
I've no doubt it is. I shouldn't wonder if it were that 
little sly-looking fellow that winks at me from the edge of 
yonder cloud, and seems to say, " Lie still, Con — keep close, 
my lad — there 's danger near." ' As I half -muttered this to 
myself, a dark object intervened between me and the sky, 
a large black disc, shutting out completely the brilliant 
fretwork on which I had been gazing. As I looked again, 
I saw it was the huge broad-brimmed hat of a padre — one 
of those felted coal-scuttles which make the most vener- 
able faces grotesque and ridiculous. 

Lying down in the bottom of the boat, I was able to 



302 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

take a deliberate survey of the priest's features, while he 
could barely detect the dark outline of my figure. He was 
thick and swarthy, with jet-black eyes, and a long-pointed 
chin. There was something Spanish in the face, and yet 
more of the Indian ; at least the projecting cheek-bones 
and the gaunt, hollow cheeks favoured that suspicion. 

From the length of time he stood peering at me I could 
perceive that it was not a passing impulse, but that his 
curiosity was considerable. This impression was scarcely 
conceived ere proved, as, taking a small lantern from the 
binnacle, he approached the boat and held it over me. 
Affecting a heavy slumber, I snored loudly, and lay 
perfectly still, while he examined my face, bending over 
me as I lay, and marking each detail of my dress and 
appearance. 

As if turning in my sleep, I contrived to alter my 
position in such a manner that, covering my face with my 
arm, I could watch the padre. 

' Came on board alone, said you ? ' asked he of a little 
dirty urchin of a cabin-boy at his side. 

'Yes, father; about two hours before we left the 
harbour.' 

' No luggage of any kind ? ' 

'A bundle, father — that under his head, and nothing 
more.' 

' Did he speak to you, or ask any questions?' 

' Only at what time we should reach Houston, and if the 
" White Hart " was near the quay.' 

' And then he lay down in the boat here ? ' 

' Just so. I saw no more of him after.' 

'That will do,' said the padre, handing the lantern to 
the boy. 

That will do ! thought I also. Master Chico, if you know 
me, I know you as well ! 

The game was now begun between us — at least, so I felt 
it. I lay watching my adversary, who slowly paced back- 
wards and forwards, stopping now and then to peep into 



CON CREGAN 303 

the boat, and doubtless conning over in his own mind his 
plan of attack. 

We were to land some passengers and take in some 
wood at a little place called Fork Island, and here I was 
half determined within myself that my voyage should end. 
That Chico had discovered me was clear — the padre could 
be no other than he ; and that he would inevitably hunt me 
down at Austin was no less evident. Now, discovery and 
lynching were but links of the same chain, and I had no 
fancy to figure as ' No. 2 ' in Hall's Court. 

The silence on the deck soon showed that most of the 
passengers had gone below, and, so far as I could see in 
the uncertain light, Chico with them. I arose, therefore, 
from my hard couch to take a little exercise, which my 
cramped limbs stood in need of. A light drizzling rain 
had begun to fall, which made the deck slippery and un- 
comfortable, and so I took my stand at the door of the 
cook's galley, into which two or three of the crew had 
sought shelter. 

As the rain fell the fog thickened, so that, standing 
close in to shore, the skipper slackened our speed, till at 
last we barely moved through the water. Not aware of 
the reason, I asked one of the sailors for an explanation. 

' It 's the dirty weather, I reckon,' said lie, sulky at being 
questioned. 

' Impatient, I suppose, to get the journey over, my young 
friend?' said a low, silky voice, which at once reminded 
me of that I had already heard when I lay in the boat. I 
turned, and it was the padre, who, with an umbrella over 
him, was standing beside me. 

'I'm not much of a sailor, father,' replied I, saluting 
him respectfully as I spoke. 

'More accustomed to the saddle than the poop-deck?' 
said he, smiling blandly. 

I nodded assent, and he went on with some passing 
generalities about sea and land life — mere skirmishing, as 
I saw, to invite conversation. 



304 THE CONFESSIONS OP 

Partly weariness, partly a sense of discomfort at the 
persecution of this man's presence, made me sigh heavily. 
I had not perceived it myself, but he remarked it imme- 
diately, and said — 

' You are depressed in spirit, my son ; something is 
weighing on your heart ! ' 

I looked up at him, and, guided possibly by my suspicion 
of his real character, I saw, or thought I saw, a twinkling 
glitter of his dark eye, as though he was approaching 
the theme on which he was bent. 

' Yes, father ! ' replied I, with a voice of well-feigned 
emotion ; t my heart is indeed heavy ; but ' — here I assumed 
a more daring tone — ! I must not despond for all 
that!' 

I walked away as I spoke, and, retiring, sat down near 
the wheel, as if to meditate. I judged that the padre would 
soon follow me ; nor was I wrong — I was not many minutes 
seated ere he stood at my side. 

' I see,' said he, in a mild voice — ' I see, from the respect 
of your manner, that you are one of our own people — a 
good son of the Church. What is your native country ? ' 

' Ireland, father,' said I, with a sigh. 

'A blessed land, indeed!' said he benignly: 'happy in 
its peaceful inhabitants — simple-minded and industrious ! ' 

I assented, like a good patriot, but not without mis- 
givings that he might have been just as happy in another 
selection of our good qualities. 

' I have known many of your countrymen,' resumed he, 
'and they all impressed me with the same esteem. All, 
alike frugal, temperate, and tranquilly disposed.' 

' Just so, sir ; and the cruelty is, nobody gives them 
credit for it ! ' 

'Ah, my son, there you are in error. The Old World 
may be, and indeed I have heard that it is, ungenerous ; 
but its prejudices cannot cross the ocean. Here we esti- 
mate men not by our prejudices but by their merits. Here 
we recognise the Irishman as Nature has made him — ■ 



CON CREGAN 305 

docile, confiding, and single-hearted; slow to anger, and 
ever ready to control his passions ! ' 

'That's exactly his portrait, father!' said I enthusi- 
astically. ' Without a double of any kind — a creature that 
does not know a wile or a stratagem ! ' 

The priest seemed so captivated by my patriotism and 
my generous warmth that he sat down beside me, and we 
continued to make Ireland still our theme, each vying with 
the other who could say most in praise of that country. 

It was at the close of a somewhat long disquisition upon 
the comparative merits of Ireland and the Garden of Eden 
— in which, I am bound to say, the balance inclined to the 
former, that the padre, as if struck by a sudden thought, 
remarked — 

' You are the very first of your nation I ever met in a 
frame of mind disposed to melancholy ! I have just been 
running over, to myself, all the Irishmen I ever knew, and 
I cannot recall one that had a particle of gloom or sorrow 
about him.' 

' Nor had I, father,' said I, with emotion ; ' nor did I 
know what sorrow was till three days back ! I was light- 
hearted and happy — the world went well with me, and I 
was content with the world. I will not trouble you with 
my story; enough when I say that I came abroad to 
indulge a taste for adventure and enterprise, and that the 
New World has not disappointed my expectations. If I 
spent money a little too freely, an odd grumble or so from 
"the governor" was the darkest cloud that shaded my 
horizon. An only son, perhaps I pushed that prerogative 
somewhat too far; but our estate is unencumbered, and 
my father's habits are the reverse of extravagant — for a 
man of his class I might call them downright rustic in 
simplicity. Alas ! why do I think of these things ? I have 
done with them for ever.' 

'Nay, nay; you must not give way thus. It is very 
unlikely that one young as you are can have any real 
guilt upon his conscience.' 

13 u 



306 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

' Not yet, father,' said I, with a shudder — ' not yet ; 
but who can tell how it may be with me to-morrow or 
next day ? — what a different answer should I have to give 
your question then ! ' 

' This is some fancy — some trick of a warm and ill- 
regulated imagination, my son.' 

' It is the language my heart pours from my lips,' said I, 
grasping his hand, as if with irrepressible emotion. 'I 
have a heavy crime here — here ! ' and I struck my breast 
violently ; ' and if it be as yet unaccomplished, the shadow 
of the guilt is on me already.' 

'Sit still, my son — sit still, and listen to me,' said he, 
restraining me, as I was about to rise ; ' to whom can you 
reveal these mysterious terrors more fittingly than to me ? 
Be candid — tell me what weighs upon your heart. It may 
be that a mere word of mine can give you courage and 
calm.' 

' That cannot be,' said I firmly ; ' you speak in kindness, 
but you know not what you promise. I am under a vow, 
father — I am under a vow ! ' 

' Well, my son, there are many vows meritorious. There 
are vows of penitence, and of chastity, and of abstin- 
ence ' 

' Mine is none of these,' said I, with a low guttural utter- 
ance, as if I was biting each word I spoke. 

' Vows of chastisement ' 

' Not that — not that either ! ' cried I ; then, dropping my 
voice to a low whisper, I said, ' I have sworn a solemn oath 
to commit a murder ! I know the full guilt of what is 
before me — I see all the consequences, both here and here- 
after, but my word is pledged — I have taken the oath with 
every ceremony that can give it solemnity, and — I'll go 
through with it ! ' 

' There is a mystery in all this,' said the padre ; ' you 
must recount the circumstances of this singular pledge 
ere I can give you either comfort or counsel.' 

' I look for neither — I hope for neither ! ' said I, wringing 



CON CREGAN 307 

my hands ; ' but you shall hear my story — you are the 
last to whom I can ever reveal it! I arrived at New 
Orleans about a fortnight ago, on a yacht cruise with a 
friend of mine, of whose name, at least, you may have 
heard — Sir Dudley Broughton.' 

' The owner of a handsome schooner, the Firefly,' said 
the padre, with an animation on the subject not quite in 
keeping with his costume. 

' The same — you are, then, acquainted with him ? ' 

' Oh no ; I was accidentally standing on the wharf when 
his yacht came up the river at New Orleans.' 

'You didn't remark a young man on the poop, in a 
f oraging-cap, with a gold band round it ? ' 

' I cannot say I did.' 

' He carried a key-bugle in his hand.' 

' I did not perceive him.' 

' That was me ; how different was I then ! Well, well — 
I'll hasten on. We arrived at New Orleans, not quite 
determined whither next we should bend our steps; and 
hearing by mere accident of this Texan expedition, we 
took it into our heads we would join it. On inquiring 
about the matter, we found that a lottery was in progress, 
the prizes of which were various portions of equipment, 
horses, mules, baggage, negroes, and so on. For this — just 
out of caprice — we took several tickets ; but as, from one 
cause or other, the drawing was delayed, we lingered on, 
going each day to the office, and there making acquaint- 
ance with a number of fellows interested in the expedi- 
tion, but whose manner and style, I need scarcely say, were 
not good recommendations to intimacy. Broughton, how- 
ever, always liked that kind of thing ; low company, with 
him, had always the charm of an amusement that he could 
resign whenever he fancied. Now, as he grew more 
intimate with these fellows, he obtained admission into a 
kind of club they held in an obscure part of the town, and 
thither we generally repaired every evening, when too 
late for any more correct society. They were all, or at 



308 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

least they affected to be, interested in Texan expeditions, 
and the conversation never took any other turn than what 
concerned these objects; and if, at first, our Old- World 
notions were shocked at their indifference to life — the 
reckless disregard of honour and good faith they evinced, 
we came, by degrees, to feel that the moral code of the 
prairies permitted many things which were never sanc- 
tioned in more cultivated latitudes. 

' Broughton entered into all this with a most extraor- 
dinary interest. Nothing seemed too wild, too abandoned, 
and too outrageous for his notions ; and I shame to say it, 
he soon made me a convert to his opinions. His constant 
speech was, " Be as virtuous as you please, my dear fellow, 
among ladies and gentlemen, but pray fight Choctaws, 
Pawnees, and half-breeds with their own weapons, which 
are either a trick or a tomahawk." I never liked the 
theory; but partly from daily iteration, partly from a 
yielding pliancy of disposition, and in great measure from 
being shamed into it, I gave way, and joined him in all the 
pledges he gave, to go through with anything the expedi- 
tion exacted. I must be brief — that light yonder is on Fork 
Island, where we stop to take in wood, and ere we reach it, 
I must make up my mind to one course or other. 

'As the time for the starting of the expedition drew 
nigh, the various plans and schemes became the theme of 
nightly discussion, and we heard of nothing but guides 
and trails, where grass was to be found for the cattle, and 
where water could be had, with significant hints about 
certain places and people who were known, or believed to 
be inimical to these excursions. Thus, on the map were 
marked certain villages which might be put under contri- 
bution, and certain log-houses which should be made to 
pay a heavy impost ; here, it was a convent to be mulcted, 
and there, a store or a mill to be burned ! In fact, the 
expedition seemed to have as many vengeances to fulfil as 
hopes of gain to gratify, for each had a friend who was 
maltreated, or robbed, or murdered, and whose fate or 



CON CREGAN 309 

fortunes required an expiation — but I weary you, padre, 
with all this ? ' 

' Not at all, my son ; I recognise perfectly the accuracy 
of your account. I have heard a good deal about these 
people.' 

' There was one individual, however, so universally de- 
tested that you would suppose he must have been a kind 
of devil incarnate to have incurred such general hate. 
Every one had a grudge against him, and, in fact, there 
was a kind of struggle who should be allotted to wreak on 
him the common vengeance of the company. It was at last 
decided that his fate should be lotteried, and that whoever 
won the first prize — this mare of which you may have heard 
— should also win the right to finish this wretched man. I 
gained this infamous distinction; and here am I, on my 
way to claim my prize and commit a murder ! Ay, I may 
as well employ the true word — it is nothing less than a 
murder ! I have not even the poor excuse of revenge. 
I cannot pretend that he ever injured me ; nay, I have not 
even seen him. I never heard of his name till two days ago ; 
nor, even now, could I succeed in finding him out if I were 
not provided with certain clues at Houston, and certain 
guides by whose aid I am to track him. My oath is pledged : 
I swore it solemnly, that, if the lot fell upon me, I 'd do the 
deed — and do it I will; yet, I am equally resolved never 
to survive it.' Here I produced my revolver. ' If this barrel 
be for the unlucky Chico, this other is for myself ! ' 

'What name did you say?' cried he, with a faltering 
voice, while his hand, as he laid it on my arm, shook 
like ague. 

' Chico, the wretch is called,' I said, fixing a cap on my 
pistol. 

'And why call him a wretch, my son? Has he ever 
injured you? How do you know that he is not some 
poor kindly-hearted creature, the father of five children, 
one of them a baby, perhaps? How can you tell the 
difficulties by which he gains his living, and the hazard 



310 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

to which he exposes his life in doing so? And is it to 
injure such a man you will go down to your own grave 
an assassin ? ' 

' I '11 do it ! ' said I doggedly — ' 1 11 keep my oath ! ' 

' Such an oath never bound any man — it is a snare of 
Satan.' 

' So it may — I '11 keep it ! ' said I, beating the deck with 
my foot, with the dogged determination of one not to be 
turned from his purpose. 

' Kill in cold blood a man you never saw before ? ' 

' Just so ; I am not going to think of him, when I set so 
little store by myself. I only wish the fellow were here 
now, and I 'd show you whether I 'd falter or not.' 

' Poor Chico — I could weep for him ! ' said he, blubbering. 

'Keep your pity for me,' said I — '1, that am bound 
by this terrible oath, and must either stamp myself a 
coward or a murderer. As for Chico, I believe a more 
worthless wretch never existed — a poor, mean-spirited 
creature, whose trade is to be a spy, and by whose cursed 
machinations many a fine fellow has been ruined.' 

'You are all wrong, sir,' said the padre warmly. 'I 
know the man myself; he is an amiable, kind-hearted 
being, that never harmed any one.' 

' He 's the fellow to die, then ! ' said I roughly. 

' He has a small family, unprovided for.' 

'They have the inheritance of his virtues,' said I 
scoffingly. 

'Can you have the heart for such cruelty?' cried he, 
almost sobbing. 

'Come with me when I land at Houston, and see — 
that 's all ! ' said I. ' A few minutes back I was hesitating 
whether I would not land at this island and abandon 
my purpose. The weakness is now over ; I feel a kind of 
fiendish spirit growing up within me already; I cannot 
think of the fellow without a sense of loathing and 
hatred ! ' 

' Lie down, my son, and compose yourself for an hour 



CON CREGAN 311 

or two ; sleep and rest will calm your agitated brain, and 
you will then listen to my counsels with profit; your 
present excitement overmasters your reason, and my 
words would be of no effect.' 

' I know it — I feel it here, across my temples — that it is 
a kind of paroxysm ; but I never close my eyes that I do 
not fancy I see the fellow, now in one shape, now in 
another, for he can assume a thousand disguises ; while 
in my ears his accursed name is always ringing.' 

'I pity you from my heart!' said the other; and 
certainly a sadder expression I never saw in any human 
face before. ' But go down below — go down, I beseech you.' 

' I have only taken a deck passage,' said I doggedly. ' I 
determined that I would see no one — speak to no one.' 

' Nor need you, my son,' said he coaxingly. ' They are 
all sound asleep in the after-cabin; take my berth — I do 
not want it — I am always better upon deck.' 

' If you will have it so,' said I, yielding ; ' but, for your 
life, not a word of what I have said to you ! Do not 
deceive yourself by any false idea of humanity. Were you 
to shoot me where I stand, you could not save him — his 
doom is spoken. If / fail, there is Broughton, and after 
him a score of others, sworn to do the work.' 

' Lie down and calm yourself,' said he, leading me to the 
companion-ladder ; ' we must speak of this to-morrow.' 

I squeezed his hand, and slowly descended to the cabin. 
At first the thought occurred to me that he might give the 
alarm and have me seized ; but then this would expose him 
so palpably to my recognition, should I chance to escape, it 
was unlikely he would do so ; the stillness on deck showed 
me I was correct in this latter estimate, and so I turned 
into his comfortable berth ; and while I drew the counter- 
pane over me, thought I had made a capital exchange for 
the hard ribs of the ' long-boat.' 

If my stratagem had succeeded in impressing my friend 
Chico with a most lively fear, it did not leave my own 
mind at perfect tranquillity. I knew that he must be a 



312 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

fellow of infinite resources, and that the game between us, 
in all likelihood, had but commenced. In circumstances of 
difficulty I have constantly made a practice of changing 
places with my antagonist, fancying myself in his position, 
and asking myself how I should act? This taking the 
'adversary's hand' is admirable practice in the game of 
life; it suggests an immense range of combinations, and 
improves one's play prodigiously. 

I now began to myself a little exercise after this fashion ; 
but what between previous fatigue, the warmth of the 
cabin, and the luxury of a real bed, Chico and I changed 
places so often in my brain that confusion ensued; then 
came weariness, and, at last, sound sleep ! so sound, that I 
was only awoke by the steward, as he popped his greasy 
head into the berth, and said, ' I say, master, here we are, 
standing close in — hadn't you better get up ? ' 

I did as he advised ; and, as I rubbed the sleep from my 
eyes, said, ' Where 's the padre, steward ? — what 's become 
of him ? ' 

' He was took ill last night, and stopped at Fork Island 
— he '11 go back with us to-morrow to Galveston.' 

'You know him, I suppose?' said I, looking at the 
fellow with a shrewd intelligence that he knew how to 
construe. 

'Well,' cried he, scratching his head — 'well, mayhap I 
do guess a bit who he is.' 

' So do I, steward ; and when we meet again he '11 know 
me,' said I, with a look of such imposing sternness that 
I saw the fellow was recording it. ' You may tell him so, 
steward. I '11 wait for him here till I catch him ; and if he 
escape both myself and my friend Broughton — Broughton, 
don't forget the name — he is deeper than I give him credit 
for.' 

As I was about to leave the cabin I caught sight of the 
corner of a red handkerchief peeping out beneath the 
pillow of the berth. I drew it forth, and found it was 
Chico's travelling kit, which he preferred abandoning to 



CON CREGAN 313 

the risk of again meeting me. It contained a small black 
skull-cap, such as priests wear, a missal, a string of beads, 
with a few common articles of dress, and eight dollars in 
silver. 

' The spoils of victory ! ' quoth I, embodying the whole in 
my own bundle — 'the enemy's baggage and the military 
chest captured ! ' 

' Which is the " White Hart " ? ' said I, as I came on deck, 
now crowded with shore folk, porters, and waiters. 

'This way, sir — follow me,' said a smart fellow in a 
waiter's dress ; and I handed him my bundle and stepped 
on shore. 




THE LOG-HUT AT BRAZOS 

WAS all impatience to see my prize; 

and scarcely had I entered the inn 

than I passed out into the stable-yard, now crowded with 

many of those equestrian - looking figures I had seen on 

board the steamer. 

' Butcher's mare here still, Georgie ? ' said a huge fellow, 
with high boots of red-brown leather, and a sheep-skin 
capote belted round him with a red sash. 

' Yes, Master Seth, there she stands. You '11 be getting 
a bargain of her, one of these days.' 

' If I had her up at Austin next week for the fair she 'd 
bring a few hundred dollars.' 

' You 'd never think of selling a beast like that at Austin, 
Seth ? ' said a bystander. 

' Why not ? Do you fancy I '11 bring her into the States, 
and see her claimed in every town of the Union ? Why, 
man, she's been stolen once a month, that mare has, since 
she was a two-year-old. I knew an old general up in the 



THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 315 

Maine frontier had her last year; and he rid her away 
from a "stump meeting" in Vermont, in change of his 
own mule — blind — and never know'd the differ till he was 
nigh home. I sold her twice, myself, in one week. Scott 
of Muckleburg stained her off foreleg white — and sold her 
back, as a new one, to the fellow who returned her for 
lameness; and she can pretend lameness — she can.' 

A roar of very unbelieving laughter followed this sally ; 
but Seth resumed — 

'Well, I'll lay fifty dollars with any gentleman here 
that she comes out of the stable dead lame, or all sound, 
just as I bid her.' 

Nobody seemed to fancy this wager; and Seth, satisfied 
with having established his veracity, went on — 

' You 've but to touch the coronet of the off -foot with 
the point of your bowie — a mere touch, not draw blood — 
and see if she won't come out linrping on the toe, all as 
one as a dead breakdown in the coffin joint ; rub her a bit 
then with your hand — she 's all right again ! It was 
Wrecksley of Ohio taught her the trick ; he used to lame 
her that way, and buy her in, wherever he found her.' 

' Who 's won her this time ? ' cried another. 

' I have, gentlemen,' said I, slapping my boot with my 
cane, and affecting a very knowing air as I spoke. The 
company turned round and surveyed me some seconds in 
deep silence. 

' You an't a-goin' to ride her, young 'un ? ' said one, half 
contemptuously. 

' No, he an't ; the gent 's willin' to sell her,' chimed in 
another. 

' He 's goin' to ax me three hundred dollars,' said a 
third, ' an' I an't a-goin' to gi' him no more than two 
hundred.' 

' You are all wrong — every man of you,' said Seth. 
'He's bringing her to England, a present for the queen, 
for her own ridin'.' 

' And I beg to say, gentlemen, that none of you have 



316 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

hit upon the right track yet ; nor do I think it necessary 
to correct you more fully. But as you appear to take an 
interest in my concerns, I may mention that I shall want 
a hack for my servant's riding — a short-legged, square- 
jointed thing, clever to go and a good feeder, not much 
above fourteen hands in height or four hundred dollars in 
price. If you chance upon this ' 

' I know your mark.' 

' My roan, with the wall-eye. You don't mind a wall- 
eye?' 

' No, no ! my black pony mare 's the thing the gent 's 
a-lookin' for.' 

' I say it 's nothing like it,' broke in Seth. ' He 's a- 
wantin' a half-bred mustang, with a down-east cross — a 
critter to go through fire and water — liftin' the forelegs 
like a high-pressure piston, and with a jerk of the " stifle," 
like the recoil of a brass eight-pounder. An't I near the 
mark ? ' 

' Not very wide of it,' said I, nodding encouragingly. 

' She 's at Austin now. You an't a-goin' there ? ' 

' Yes,' said I ; ' I shall be in Austin next week.' 

' Well, never you make a deal till you see my black 
pony,' cried one. 

' Nor the roan cob,' shouted another. 

1 He 'd better see 'em 'fore he sees Split-the-wind, then, 
or he 'd not look at 'em arter,' said Seth. ' You 've only to 
ask for Seth Chiseller, and they '11 look me up.' 

' You an't a-goin' to let us see Butcher's mare afore we 
go ? ' said one to the ostler. 

' I an't, because I haven't got the key. She 's a-double- 
locked, and the cap'n never gives it to no one, but comes 
a feedin' time himself, to give her corn.' 

After a few muttered remarks on this caution, the 
horse-dealers sauntered out of the yard, leaving me musing 
over what I had heard, and wondering if this excessive 
care of the landlord boded any suspicion regarding the 
winner of the prize. 




He reappeared leading a tall mare. 



CON CREGAN 317 

' Jist draw that bolt across the gate there, will ye,' 
said the ostler, while he produced a huge key from his 
pocket. ' I know em well, them gents. A man must have 
fourteen eyes in his head, and have 'em back and front 
too, that shows 'em a horse beast ! Darn me coarse ! if 
they can't gi' 'un a blood spavin in a squirt of tobacco ! 
Let's see your ticket, young master, and I'll show you 
Charcoal — that's her name.' 

' Here it is,' said I, ' signed by the agent at Galveston, 
all right and regular.' 

' The cap'n must see to that. I only want to know that 
ye have the number. Yes, that 's it ; now stand a bit on 
one side. Ye '11 see her when she comes out.' 

He entered the stable as he spoke, and soon re- 
appeared, leading a tall mare, fully sixteen hands high, 
and black as jet — a single white star on her forehead, and 
a dash of white across the tail, being the only marks 
on her. She was bursting with condition, and both in 
symmetry and action a splendid creature. 

' An't she a streak of lightnin', and no mistake ? ' said 
he, gazing on her with rapture. ' An't she glibber to move 
nor a wag of a comet's tail, when he 's taking a lark round 
the moon ? There 's hocks ! there 's pasterns ! Show me a 
gal with ankles like 'em, and look at her, here ! An't she 
a-made for sittin' on ? ' 

I entered into all his raptures. She was faultless in 
every point — save, perhaps, that in looking at you she 
would throw her eye backwards, and show a little bit too 
much of the white. I remarked this to the ostler. 

' The only fault she has,' said he, shaking his head ; 
' she mistrusts a body always, and so she 's eternally a- 
lookin' back, and a gatherin' up her quarters, and a-holdin' 
of her tail tight in ; but for that, she 's a downright reg'lar 
beauty, and for stride and bottom there ain't her equal 
nowhere.' 

' Her late master was unlucky, I 've heard,' said I 
insinuatingly. 



318 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

' He was so far unlucky that he couldn't sit his beast 
over a torrent and a down leap. He would hold her in, 
and she won't bear it at a spring, and so she flung him 
before she took the leap, and when she lit t' other side, 
with her head high and her hind legs under her, he was 
a-sittin' with his'n under his arm, and his neck bruck — that 
was the way o' it. See now, master, if ever ye do want a 
great streak out of her, leave the head free a bit, press her 
wi' your calves, and give a right down reg'lar halloo — ha ! 
like a Mexican chap — then, she '11 do it ! ' 

The ostler found me a willing listener, either when 
dwelling on the animal's perfections, or suggesting hints 
for her future management ; and when at last both these 
themes were tolerably exhausted, he proceeded to show 
me the horse-gear of saddle, and bridle, and halter, and 
holsters, all handsomely finished in Mexican taste, and 
studded with brass nails in various gay devices. At last 
he produced the rifle — a regular Kentucky one, of polt's 
making — and what he considered a still greater prize, a 
bell-mouthed thing, half horse-pistol, half blunderbuss, 
which he called ' a almighty fine " Harper's Ferry tool," 
that would throw thirty bullets through an oak panel 
two inches thick.' 

It was evident that he looked upon the whole equip- 
ment as worthy of the most exalted possession, and he 
gazed on me as one whose lot was indeed to be envied. 

' Seth and the others leave this to-morrow a'ternoon,' 
said he ; ' but if ye be a-goin' to Austin, where the 
"spedeshin" puts up, take my advice, and get away 
before 'em. You've a fine road — no trouble to find the 
way ; your beast will carry you forty, fifty, if you want it, 
sixty miles between sunrise and " down " ; and you 11 be 
snug over the journey before they reach Killian's Mill, the 
half-way. An' if ye want to know why I say so, it 's just 
because that's too good a beast to tempt a tramper wi', 
and them 's all trampers ! ' 

I gave the ostler a dollar for all his information and 



CON CREGAN 319 

civility, and re-entered the inn to have my supper. The 
cap'n had already returned home, and after verifying my 
ticket, took my receipt for the mare, which I gave in all 
form, writing my name ' Con Cregan ' as though it were to 
a cheque for a thousand pounds. 

I supped comfortably, and then walked out to the 
stable to see Charcoal. ' Get her corn ; you '11 see if she 
don't eat it in less than winkin',' said the ostler ; ' and if 
she wor my beast, she 'd never taste another feed till she 
had her nose in the manger at Croft's Gulley.' 

' And where is Croft's Gulley ? ' 

'It's the bottoms after you pass the larch wood; the 
road dips a bit, and is heavy there, and it 's a good baitin' 
place, just eighteen miles from here.' 

' On the road to Austin ? ' 

He nodded. 'Ye see,' he said, 'the moon's a-risin'; 
there's no one out this time. Ye know what I said 
afore.' 

' I '11 take the advice, then. Get the traps ready ; 1 11 
pack the saddle-bags and set out.' 

If any one had asked me, ' why I was in such haste to 
reach Austin ? ' my answer would have been, to join the 
expedition ; and if interrogated, ' with what object then ? ' 
I should have been utterly dumfoundered. Little as I 
knew of its intentions, they must all have been above the 
range of my ability and means to participate in. True, I 
had a horse and a rifle; but there was the end of my 
worldly possessions, not to say that my title, even to 
these, admitted of litigation. A kind of vague notion 
possessed me, that once up with the expedition, I should 
find my place ' somewhere ' — a very Irish idea of a 
responsible situation. I trusted to the ' making myself 
generally useful' category for employment, and to a 
ready-wittedness never cramped nor restrained by the 
petty prejudices of a conscience. 

The love of enterprise and adventure is conspicuous 
among the springs of action in Irish life, occasionally 



320 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

developing a Wellesley or a Captain Rock. Peninsular 
glories and predial outrage have just the same one origin 
— a love of distinction, and a craving desire for the enjoy- 
ment of that most fascinating of all excitements — what- 
ever perils life. 

Without this element, pleasure soon palls ; without the 
cracked skulls and fractured ' femurs,' fox-hunting would 
be mere galloping — a review might vie with a battle if 
they fire blank cartridge in both ! Who 'd climb the Peter 
Bot, or cross the petits mulets of Mont Blanc, if it were 
not that a false step or a totter would send him down a 
thousand fathoms into the deep gorge below. This playing 
hide-and-seek with Death seems to have a great charm, 
and is very possibly the attraction some folks feel in 
playing invalid, and passing their lives amid black draughts 
and blue lotions ! 

I shrewdly suspect this luxury of tempting peril dis- 
tinguishes man from the whole of the other animal 
creation ; and if we were to examine it a little, we should 
see that it opens the way to many of his highest aspirings 
and most noble enterprises. Now, let not the gentle reader 
ask, ' Does Mr. Cregan include horse-stealing in the list of 
these heroic darings?' Believe me, he does not ; he rather 
regarded the act of appropriation in the present case in 
the light some noble lords did when voting away church 
property — ' a hard necessity, but preferable to being mulct 
one's self ! ' With many a thought like this, I rode out into 
the now silent town, and took my way towards Austin. 

It is a strange thing to find one's self in a foreign land, 
thousands of miles from home, alone, and at night! the 
sense of isolation is almost overwhelming. So long as 
daylight lasts, the stir of the busy world, and the business 
of life, ward off these thoughts — the novelty of the scene 
even combats them ; but when night has closed in, and we 
see above us the stars that we have known in other 
lands, the self-same moon by whose light we wandered 
years ago, and then look around and mark the features 



CON CREGAN 321 

of a new world, with objects which tell of another hemi- 
sphere, and then think that we are there, alone, without 
tie or link to all around us, the sensation is thrilling in its 
intensity. 

Every one of us — the least imaginative even — will asso- 
ciate the strangeness of a foreign scene with something 
of that adventure of which he has read in his childhood ; 
and we people vacancy, as we go, with images to suit the 
spot in our own country. The little pathway along the 
river-side suggests the lovers' walk at sunset, as surely as 
the dark grove speaks of a woodman's hut or a gypsy 
camp. But abroad, the scene evokes different dwellers ; the 
Sierra suggests the brigand; the thick jungle the jaguar 
or the rattlesnake; the heavy plash in the muddy river 
is the sound of the cayman; and the dull roar, like wind 
within a cavern, is the cry of the hungry lion. The presence 
around us of objects of which we have read long ago, but 
never expected to see, is highly exciting ; it is like taking 
our place among the characters of a story, and investing 
us with an interest to ourselves, as the hero of some 
unwrought history. 

This is the most fascinating of all castle-building, since 
we have a spot for an edifice — a territory actually given 
to us. 

I thought long upon this theme, and wondered to what 
I was yet destined — whether to some condition of real 
eminence, or to move on among that vulgar herd who are 
the spectators of life, but never its conspicuous actors. I 
really believe this ignoble course was more distasteful to 
me from its flatness and insipidity than from its mere 
humility. It seemed so devoid of all interest — so tame and 
so monotonous — I would have chosen peril and vicissitude 
any day in preference. About midnight I reached Croft's 
Gulley, where, after knocking for some time, a very sulky 
old negro admitted me into a stable while I baited my 
mare. The house was shut up for the night, and even had 
I sought refreshment I could not have obtained it. 
13 x 



322 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

After a brief halt, I again resumed the road, which led 
through a close pine-forest, and, however much praised, 
was anything but a good surface to travel on. Charcoal, 
however, made light of such difficulties, and picked her 
steps over holes and stumps with the caution of a trapper, 
detecting with a rare instinct the safe ground, and never 
venturing on spots where any difficulty or danger existed. 
I left her to herself ; and it was curious to see that when- 
ever a short interval of better footway intervened, she 
would, as if to 'make play,' as the jockeys call it, strike 
out in a long swinging canter, ' pulling up ' to the walk the 
moment the uneven surface admonished her to caution. 

As day broke the road improved, so that I was able to 
push along at a better pace, and by breakfast-time I found 
myself at a low, poor-looking log-house, called ' Brazos.' A 
picture, representing Texas as a young child receiving 
some admirable counsel from a very matronly lady with 
thirteen stars on her petticoat, flaunted over the door, 
with the motto, 'Filial Affection, and Candy Flip at all 
hours.' 

A large dull-eyed man, in a flannel pea-jacket and loose 
trousers to match, was seated in a rocking-chair at the 
door, smoking an enormous cigar, a little charmed circle 
of expectoration seeming to defend him from the assaults 
of the vulgar. A huge can of cider stood beside him, and 
a piece of Indian corn bread. He eyed me with the coolest 
unconcern as I dismounted, nor did he show the slightest 
sign of welcome. 

' This is an inn, I believe, friend ? ' said I, saluting him. 

' I take it to be a hotel,' said he, in a voice very like a 
yawn. 

' And the landlord — where is he ? ' 

' Where he ought to be — at his own door, a-smokin' his 
own rearin'.' 

' Is there an ostler to be found ? I want to refresh my 
horse, and get some breakfast for myself too.' 

' There an't none.' 




A Free aiul tndepencLciit Land lord, 



CON CREGAN 323 

'No help?' 

' Never was.' 

'That's singular, I fancy.' 

' No it an't.' 

' Why, what do travellers do with their cattle, then ? ' 

' There bean't none.' 

'No cattle?' 

' No travellers.' 

' No travellers ! and this the highroad between two 
considerable towns ! ' 

' It an't.' 

' Why, surely this is the road to Austin ? ' 

' It an't.' 

' Then this is not Brazos ? ' 

' It be Upper Brazos.' 

' There are two of them, then ; and the other I suppose 
is on the Austin road ? ' 

He nodded. 

' What a piece of business ! ' sighed I ; ' and how far 
have I come astray ? ' 

' A good bit.' 

' A mile or two ? ' 

' Twenty.' 

' Will you be kind enough to be a little more communi- 
cative, and just say where this road leads to, if I can join 
the Austin road without turning back again, and where ? ' 

Had I propounded any one of these queries, it is just 
possible I might have had an answer; but, in my zeal, 
I outwitted myself. I drew my cheque for too large 
an amount, and consequently was refused payment alto- 
gether. 

' Well,' said I, after a long and vain wait for an answer, 
'what am I to do with my horse? There is a stable, I 
hope?' 

' There an't,' said he, with a grunt. 

' So that I can't bait my beast ? ' 

'No!' 



324 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

'Bad enough! can I have something to eat myself? a 
cup of coffee — — ? ' 

A rude burst of laughter stopped me, and the flannel 
man actually shook with the drollery of his own thoughts. 
'It bean't Astor House, I reckon !' said he, wiping his eyes. 

' Not very like it, certainly,' said I, smiling. 

' What o' that ? Who says it ought to be like it ? ' said 
he, and his fishy eyes flared up, and his yellow cheeks grew 
orange with anger. ' I an't very like old Hickory, I s'pose ! 
and maybe I don't want to be ! I 'm a free Texan ! I an't 
a nigger nor a blue nose ! I an't one of your old country 
slaves, that black King George's boots, and ask leave to 
pay his taxes ! I an't.' 

' And I,' said I, assuming an imitation of his tone, for 
experiment's sake — ' I am no lazy, rocking-chair, whittling, 
tobacco-chewing Texan ! but a traveller, able and willing 
to pay for his accommodation, and who will have it, too ! ' 

' Will ye ? Will ye, then ? ' cried he, springing up with 
an agility I could not have believed possible ; while, rush- 
ing into the hut, he reappeared with a long Kentucky 
rifle, and a bayonet a-top of it. 'Ye han't long to seek 
yer man if ye want a flash of powder ! Come out into the 
bush and " see it out," I say ! ' 

The tone of this challenge was too insulting not to call 
for at least the semblance of acceptance, and so, fastening 
my mare to a huge staple beside the door, I unslung my 
rifle, and cried, 'Come along, my friend, I'm quite ready 
for you ! ' 

Nothing daunted at my apparent willingness, he threw 
back the hammer of his lock, and said, 'Hark ye, young 
'un ! You can't give me a cap or two ? mine are consider- 
able rusty ! ' 

The request was rather singular, but its oddity was its 
success ; and so, opening a small case in the stock of my 
rifle, I gave him some. 

'Ah, them's real chaps — the true "tin jackets," as we 
used to say at St. Louis ! ' cried he, his tongue seeming 



CON CREGAN 325 

wonderfully loosened by the theme. ' Now, lad, let 's see if 
one of your bullets fit this bore ; she 's a heavy one, and 
carries twenty to the pound ; and I 've nothing in her now 
but some loose chips of iron for the bears.' 

Loose chips of iron for the bears ! thought I ; did ever 
mortal hear such a barbarian ! ' You don't fancy, friend, I 
came here to supply you with lead and powder, to be used 
upon myself, too ! I supposed, when you asked me to come 
out into the bush, that you had everything a gentleman 
ought to have for such a purpose.' 

'Well, I never seed the like of that!' exclaimed he, 
striking the ground with the butt-end of his piece. ' If we 
don't stand at four guns' length ' 

'We'll do no such thing, friend,' said I, shouldering my 
piece and advancing towards him. ' I never meant to 
offend you ; nor have you any object in wounding, mayhap 
killing, me. Let me have something to eat ; I '11 pay for it 
freely, and go my ways.' 

'What on airth is it, eh?' said he, looking puzzled. 
' Why, that 's one of Colt's rifles ! you 'd have picked me 
down at two hundred yards, sure as my name is Gabriel.' 

' I know it,' said I coolly ; ' and how much the better or 
the happier should I have been had I done so ? ' I watched 
the fellow's pasty countenance as though I could read what 
passed in the muddy bottom of his mind. 

'If it were not for something of this kind,' added I 
sorrowfully, ' I should not be here to-day. You know New 
Orleans ? ' — he nodded — ' well, perhaps you know Ebenezer 
York?' 

' The senator ? ' 

' The same ! ' — I made the pantomime of presenting a 
pistol, and then of a man falling — ' just so. His brothers 
have taken up the pursuit, and so I came down into this 
quarter till the smoke cleared off ! ' 

' He was a plumper at a hundred and twenty yards. I 
seen him double up Gideon Millis, of Ohio.' 

' Ah ! I could recount many a thing of the kind to you,' 



326 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

said I, leading the way towards the hut, ' but my throat is 
so dry, and I feel so confoundedly weary just now ' 

' That 's cider,' said he, pointing to the crock. 

I didn't wait for a more formal invitation, but carried 
it to my lips, and so held it for full a couple of minutes. 

' Ye wor drouthy — that 's a fact ! ' said he, peering into 
the low watermark of the vessel. 

' You haven't got any more bread ? ' said I, appropriat- 
ing his own. 

' If I hadn't, ye 'd not have got that so easy, lad ! ' said 
he, with a grin. 

' And now for my mare ; you see she 's a good one ' 

' Good as if she belonged to a richer master ! ' said 
he, with a peculiar leer of the eye. ' I know her well ! 
Knowed her a foal ! Ah, Charry, Miss ! do you forget the 
way to take off your saddle with your teeth?' and he 
patted the creature with a nearer approach to kindness 
than I believed he was capable of. 

I will not dwell upon the little arts I employed to con- 
ciliate my friend Gabriel, nor stop to say how I managed 
to procure some Indian corn-meal for my horse, and the 
addition of a very tough piece of dried beef to my own 
meagre breakfast. I conclude the reader will be as eager 
to escape from his society as I was myself ; nor had I ever 
thrown him into such unprofitable acquaintanceship, 
were there other means of explaining how first I 
wandered from the right path, and by what persuasions 
I was influenced in not returning to it. 

If Gabriel's history was not very entertaining, it was 
at least short, so far as its catastrophe went. He was a 
Kentucky ' bounty man,' who had taken into his head to 
fight a duel with a companion with whom he was return- 
ing from New York. He killed his antagonist, buried him, 
and was wending his way homeward with the watch and 
other property of the deceased, to restore to his friends, 
when he was arrested at Little Rock and conveyed to 
gaol. He was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to death, 



CON CREGAN 327 

but made his escape the night before the execution was 
to have taken place. His adventures from the Arkansas 
River till the time he found himself in Texas were excit- 
ing in a high degree, and, even with his own telling, not 
devoid of deep interest. Since his location in the One-Star 
Republic, he had tried various things, but all had failed 
with him. His family, who followed him, died off by the 
dreadful intermittents of the bush, leaving him alone to 
doze through the remainder of existence between the 
half-consciousness of his fall and the stupid insensibility 
of debauch. There was but one theme could stir the dark 
embers of his nature ; and when he had quitted that, the 
interest of life seemed to have passed away, and he relapsed 
into his dreamy indifference to both present and future. 

How he contrived to eke out subsistence was difficult 
to conceive. To the tavern he had been almost the only 
customer, and in succession consumed the little stores his 
poor wife had managed to accumulate. He appeared to 
feel a kind of semi-consciousness that if ' bears did not fall 
in his way ' during the winter it might go hard with him ; 
and he pointed to four mounds of earth behind the log-hut, 
and said that ' the biggest would soon be alongside of 'em.' 

As the heat of midday was too great to proceed in, I 
learned from him thus much of his own story, and some 
particulars of the road to Bexar, whither I had now 
resolved on proceeding, since, according to his opinion, 
that afforded me a far better chance of coming up with 
the expedition than by following their steps to Austin. 

' Had you come a few hours earlier to day,' said he, ' you 
could have joined company with a friar who is travelling 
to Bexar; but you'll easily overtake him, as he travels 
with a little waggon and a sick woman. They are making 
a pilgrimage to the saints there for her health. They have 
two lazy mules and a half-breed driver, that won't work 
miracles on the roads, whatever the Virgin may after ! 
You '11 soon come up with them, if Charry 's like what she 
used to be.' 



328 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

This intelligence was far from displeasing to me, I 
longed for some companionship ; and that of a friar, if not 
very promising as to amusement, had at least the merit of 
safety — no small charm in such a land as I then sojourned 
in. I learned, besides, that he was an Irishman, who had 
come out as a missionary among the Choctaws, and that 
he was well versed in prairie life — that he spoke many of 
the Indian dialects, and knew the various trails of these 
pathless wilds like any trapper of them all. 

Such a fellow-traveller would be indeed a prize ; and as 
I saddled my mare to fellow him, I felt lighter at heart 
than I had done for a long time previous. 'And his 
name ? ' said I. 

' It is half Mexican by this. They call him Fra Miguel 
up at Bexar.' 

' Now then for Fra Miguel ! ' cried I, springing into my 
saddle; and, with a frank 'Good-bye,' took the road to 
Bexar. 

I rode along with a light heart, my way leading through 
a forest of tall beech and alder trees, whose stems were 
encircled by the twining tendrils of the 'liana,' which 
oftentimes spanned the space overhead, and tempered the 
noonday sun by its delicious shade. Birds of gay plumage 
and strange note hopped from branch to branch, while 
hares and rabbits sat boldly on the grassy road, and 
scarcely cared to move at my approach. The crimson- 
winged bustard, the swallow-tailed woodpecker with his 
snowy breast, and that most beautiful of all, the lazuli 
finch, whose colour would shame the blue waters of the 
Adriatic, chirped and fluttered on every side. The wild 
squirrel, too, swung by his tail and jerked himself from 
bough to bough, in all the confidence of unmolested 
liberty ; while even the deer, timid without danger, stood 
and gazed at me as I went, doubtless congratulating them- 
selves that they were not born to be beasts of burden. 

There was so much novelty to me in all around that the 
monotonous character of the scene never wearied; for, 



CON CREGAN 329 

although as far as human companionship was concerned, 
nothing could be more utterly solitary and desolate, yet 
the abundance of animal life, the bright tints of plumage, 
and the strange concert of sound, afforded an unceasing 
interest. 

Occasionally I came upon the charred fragments of 
firewood, with other signs indicative of a bivouac, showing 
where some hunting-party had halted ; but these, with a 
chance wheel-track, were all the evidence that travellers 
had ever passed that way. The instincts of the human 
heart are, after all, linked to companionship, and, 
although it was but a few hours since I had parted with 
' mine host ' of Brazos, I began to conceive a most anxious 
desire for the society of a fellow-traveller. I had pushed 
Charcoal for some time in the hope of overtaking the 
friar, but not only without success, but even without 
coming upon any recent tracks that should show where 
the party passed. I could not have mistaken the road, 
since there was but one through the forest ; and at last I 
became uneasy lest I should not reach some place of 
shelter for the night, and obtain refreshment for myself 
and my horse. From the time that these thoughts crossed 
my mind, all relish for the scene and its strange associa- 
tions departed. A scarlet jay might have perched upon 
my saddle-bow unmolested; a whip-poor-will might have 
chanted her note from my hat or my holsters unminded ; 
the antlered stags did indeed graze me as they went, with- 
out my once remembering that I was the owner of one 
of Colt's ' sharp bores,' so intent I had grown upon the 
topic of personal safety. What if I had gone astray? 
What if I fell in with the Choctaws, who often came 
within a few miles of Austin ? What if Charcoal fell 

lame, or even tired ? What if But why enumerate all 

the suspicions that when chased away on one side in- 
variably came back on the other? There was not an 
incident, from a sprained ankle to actual starvation, that 
I did not rehearse ; and, like that respected authority who 



330 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

spent his days speculating what he should do ' if he met a 
white bear,' I threw myself into so many critical situations 
and embarrassing conjectures that my head ached with 
overtaxed ingenuity to escape from them. 

iEsop's fables have much to answer for. The attribut- 
ing the gift of speech to animals by way of characterising 
their generic qualities takes a wondrous hold upon the 
mind ; and as for me, I held ' imaginary conversations ' 
with everything that flew or bounded past. From the 
green lizard that scaled the shining cork-trees to the lazy 
toad that flopped heavily into the water, I had a word for 
all — ay, and thought they answered me too. 

Some, I fancied, chirped pleasantly and merrily, as 
though to say, 'Go it, Con, my hearty — Charry has 
stride and wind for many a mile yet.' Some, with a wild 
scream, would seem to utter a cry of surprise at the pace, 
as if saying, ' Ruffle my feathers, if Con 's not in a hurry.' 
An old owl, with a horseshoe wig, looked shocked at my 
impetuosity, and shook his wise head in grave rebuke; 
while a fat asthmatic frog nearly choked with emotion 
as I hurled the small pebbles into his bath of duck-weed. 
How strange would life be, reduced to such companion- 
ship, thought I. Would one gradually sink down to the 
level of this animal existence, such as it appears now, or 
would one elevate the inferior animal to some equality 
of intelligence ? 

The solitude which a short time previous had suggested 
I know not how many bright imaginings, presented now 
the one sad, unvarying reflection — desolation ; and it 
had almost become a doubtful point whether I should 
not at once turn my horse's head and make for Upper 
Brazos and its gruff host of the log-house, rather than 
brave a night al fresco in the forest. It was just at 
the moment that this question became mooted in my 
mind that I perceived the faint track of a wheel on the 
short grass of the pathway. I dismounted and examined 
it closely, and soon discovered its counterpart on the other 



CON CREGAN 331 

side of the road, and with a little further search I could 
detect the foot-marks of two horses evidently unshod. 

Inspired with fresh courage by these signs, I spurred 
Charry to a sharper stride, and for above two hours 
rode on, each turning of the road suggesting the hope of 
coming up with the friar, who evidently journeyed at 
a brisker pace than I had anticipated. The sailor's adage 
says that 'a stern chase is a long chase,' and so it is, 
whether it be on land or sea — whether the pursuit be 
to overtake a flying Frenchman or Fortune ! 

The sun had sunk beneath the tops of the tall trees, 
and only streamed through, in chance lines of light, upon 
the road, when suddenly I found myself upon the verge 
of an abrupt descent, at the bottom of which ran a narrow 
but rapid river. These great fissures, by which the 
mountain streams descend to join the larger rivers, are 
very common in Texas and throughout the region which 
borders on the Rocky Mountains, and form one of the 
greatest impediments to travelling in these tracts. 

As I gazed upon the steep descent, to have scrambled 
down which, even on foot, would have been dangerous 
and difficult enough, I remembered that I had passed, 
about half an hour before, a spot where the road ' forked ' 
off into two separate directions, and at once resumed 
my march to this place, where I had the satisfaction of 
perceiving that the grass was yet rising under the recent 
passage of a waggon. A short and sharp canter down a 
gentle slope brought me once more in sight of the stream, 
and, of what was far nearer to my hopes, the long-looked- 
f or party with the friar. 

The scene I now beheld was sufficiently striking for 
a picture. About fifty feet beneath where I stood, and 
on the bank of a boiling, foaming torrent, was a waggon, 
drawn by two large horses ; a covering of canvas formed 
an awning overhead, and curtains of the same material 
closed the sides. A large, powerful-looking Mexican stood 
beating the stream with a great pole, while the friar 



332 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

with his robes tucked up so as to display a pair of 
enormous naked legs, assisted in this singular act of 
flagellation, from time to time addressing a hasty prayer 
to a small image, which I perceived he had hung up 
against the canvas covering. The noise of the rushing 
water, and the crashing sound of the sticks, prevented 
my hearing the voices, which were most volubly exerted 
all the while, and which, by accustoming myself to the 
din, I at last perceived were used in exhorting the horses 
to courage. The animals, however, gave no token of 
returning confidence, nor showed the slightest inclination 
to advance. On the contrary, whenever led forward a 
pace or two, they invariably sprang back with a bound 
that threatened to smash their tackle or upset the 
waggon; nor was it without much caressing and en- 
couragement that they would stand quiet again. Mean- 
while, the friar's exertions were redoubled at every 
moment, and both his prayers and his thrashings became 
more animated. Indeed, it was curious to watch with 
what agility his bulky figure alternated from the work 
of beating the water to gesticulating before ' the Virgin.' 
Now, as I looked, a small corner of the canvas curtain 
was moved aside, and a hand appeared, which even with- 
out the large straw fan it carried, might have been 
pronounced a female one. This, however, was speedily 
withdrawn on some observation from the friar, and the 
curtain was closed rigidly as before. 

All my conjectures as to this singular proceeding being 
in vain, I resolved to join the party, towards whom I 
perceived the road led by a slightly circuitous descent. 

Cautiously wending my way down this slope, which 
grew steeper as I advanced, I had scarcely reached the 
river-side when I was perceived by the party. Both the 
friar and his follower ceased their performance on the 
instant, and cast their eyes upwards to the road with a 
glance that showed they were on ' the lookout ' for others. 
They even changed their position to have a better view 



CON CREGAN 333 

of the path, and seemed as if unable to persuade them- 
selves that I could be alone. To my salutation, which I 
made by courteously removing my hat and bowing low, 
they offered no return, and looked — as I really believe 
they were — far too much surprised at my sudden appear- 
ance to afford me any signs of welcome. As I came 
nearer, I could see that the friar made the circuit of 
the waggon, and, as if casually, examined the curtains, 
and then, satisfied ' that all was right,' took his station 
by the head of his beasts and waited for my approach. 

' Good-day, Senhor Caballero,' said the friar, in Spanish, 
while the Mexican looked at the lock of his long-barrelled 
rifle, and retired a couple of paces, with a gesture of 
guarded caution. 

' Good-evening, rather, father,' said I in English. ' I have 
ridden hard to come up with you for the last twenty miles.' 

' From the States ? ' said the friar, approaching me, 
but with no peculiar evidences of pleasure at hearing his 
native language. 

' From your own country, Fra Miguel,' said I boldly — 
' an Irishman.' 

' And how are you travelling here ? ' said he, still 
preserving his previous air of caution and reserve. 

' A mistake of the road ! ' said I confidently ; for already 
I had invented my last biographical sketch. 'I was on 
the way to Austin, whither I had despatched my servants 
and baggage, when accidentally taking the turn to Upper 
Brazos instead of the lower one, I found myself some 
twenty miles off my track before I knew of it. I should 
have turned back when I discovered my error, but that I 
heard that a friar, a countryman too, had just set out 
towards Bexar. This intelligence at once determined me 
to continue my way, which I rejoice to find has been so 
far successful.' 

To judge from the padre's face, the pleasure did not 
appear reciprocal. He looked at me and the waggon alter- 
nately, and then he cast his eyes towards the Mexican, 



334 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

who, understanding nothing of English, was evidently hold- 
ing himself ready for any measures of a hostile character, 

'Going to Austin!' at last said the friar. 'You are a 
merchant, then ? ' 

'No,' said I, smiling superciliously; 'I am a mere 
traveller for pleasure, my object being to make a tour 
of the prairies, and by some of the Mexican cities, before 
my return to Europe.' 

' Heaven guide and protect you,' said he fervently, with 
a wave of his hand like leave-taking. ' This is not a land 
to wander in after nightfall. You are well mounted, 
and a good rider ; push on then, my son, and you '11 reach 
Bexar before the moon sets.' 

'If that be your road, father,' said I, 'as speed is no 
object with me, I'd rather join company with you than 
proceed alone.' 

'Ahem!' said he, looking confused; 'I am going to 
Bexar, it is true, senhor, but my journey is of the slowest : 
the waggon is heavy, and a sick companion whom it con- 
tains cannot travel fast. Go, then, con Dios ! and we may 
meet again at our journey's end.' 

' My mare has got quite enough of it,' said I — my desire 
to remain with him being trebled by his exertions to get 
rid of me. 'When I overtook you I was determining to 
dismount and spare my beast, so that your pace will not 
in the least inconvenience me.' 

The padre, instead of replying to me, addressed some 
words to the Mexican in Spanish, which, whatever they 
were, the other only answered by a sharp slap of his palm 
on the stock of his rifle, and a very significant glance at 
his girdle, where a large bowie-knife glittered in all the 
freedom of its unsheathed splendour. As if not noticing 
this pantomime, I drew forth my ' Harper's Ferry pistol ' 
from the holster and examined the priming — a little bit 
of display I had the satisfaction to perceive was not 
thrown away on either the friar or the layman. At a 
word from the former, however, the latter began once 



CON CREGAN 335 

again his operations with the pole, the friar resuming 
his place beside the cattle, as if totally forgetful of my 
presence there. 

' May I ask the object of this proceeding, father,' said 
I, ' which, unless it be a " devotional exercise," is perfectly 
unaccountable to me.' 

The padre looked at me without speaking ; but the sly 
drollery of his eye showed that he would have had no 
objection to bandy a jest with me were the time and 
place more fitting. 'I perceive,' said he, at length, 'that 
you have not journeyed in this land, or you would have 
known that at this season the streams abound with 
caymans and alligators, and that when the cattle have 
been once attacked by them they have no courage to 
cross a river after. Their instinct, however, teaches 
them that beating the waters ensures safety, and many 
a Mexican horse will not go knee-deep without this 
ceremony being performed.' 

' I see that your cattle are unusually tired in the present 
case,' said I, ' for you have been nigh half an hour here to 
my own knowledge.' 

' Look at that black mare's foreleg and you '11 see why,' 
said he, pointing to a deep gash which laid bare the white 
tendons for some inches in length, while a deep pool of 
blood flowed around the animal's hoof. 

A cry from the Mexican here broke in upon our colloquy, 
as, throwing down his pole, he seized his rifle and dropped 
upon one knee in the attitude of defence. 

' What is it, Sancho ? ' cried the friar. 

A few words of guttural followed, and the padre said it 
was a large alligator that had just carried off a chiguire, a 
wild pig, under the water with him. This stream is a 
tributary of the Colorado, along the banks of which these 
creatures' eggs are found in thousands ! 

My blood ran cold at the horrid thought of being 
attacked by such animals, and I readily volunteered my 
assistance at the single-stick exercise of my companion. 



336 



THE CONFESSIONS OF 



The friar accepted my offer without much gracious- 
ness, but rather as that of an unwelcome guest who could 
not be easily got rid of. 




A NIGHT IN A FOREST OF TEXAS 

HE friar ceased his efforts, and calling 
the Mexican to one side, whispered something in a low, 
cautious manner. The other seemed to demur and hesi- 
tate, but, after a brief space, appeared to yield; when, 
replacing the poles beside the waggon, he turned the 
horses' heads toward the road by which they had just come. 

' We are about to try a ford some miles farther up the 
stream,' said the padre, 'and so we commend you to the 
Virgin and wish you a prosperous journey.' 

' All roads are alike to me, holy father,' said I, with a 
coolness that cost me something to assume. 



CON CREGAN 337 

' Then take the shortest, and you '11 be soonest at your 
journey's end,' said he gruffly. 

1 Who can say that ? ' rejoined I ; ' it 's no difficult matter 
to lose one's way in a dense forest where the tracks are 
unknown.' 

' There is but one path, and it cannot be mistaken,' said 
he, in the same tone. 

' It has one great disadvantage, father,' said I. 

'What is that?' 

' There is no companionship on it ; and, to say truth, I 
have too much of the Irishman in me to leave good 
company for the pleasure of travelling all alone.' 

' Methinks you have very little of the Irishman about 
you in another respect,' said he, with a sneer of no doubt- 
ful meaning. 

' How so ? ' said I eagerly. 

' In volunteering your society when it is not sought 
for, young gentleman,' said he, with a look of steadfast 
effrontery ; ' at least, I can say, such were not the habits 
of the land as I remember it some forty years ago.' 

' Ah, holy father, it has grown out of many a barbarous 
custom since your time — the people have given up drink- 
ing and faction-fighting, and you may travel fifty miles a 
day for a week together and never meet with a friar.' 

' Peace be with you ! ' said he, waving his hand, but with 
a gesture it was easy to see boded more passion than 
patience. 

I hesitated for a second what to do ; and, at last, feeling 
that another word might perhaps endanger the victory I 
had won, I dashed spurs into the mare's flanks, and, with 
the shout the ostler had recommended, rushed her at the 
stream. Over she went, ' like a bird,' lighting on the 
opposite bank with her hind legs ' well up,' and the next 
moment plunged into the forest. 

Scarcely, however, had I proceeded fifty paces than I 
drew up. The dense wood effectually shut out the river 
from my view, and even masked the sounds of the rushing 
13 y 



338 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

water. A suspicion dwelt on my mind that the friar was 
not going back, and that he had merely concerted this plan 
with the Mexican the easier to disembarrass himself of 
my company. The seeming pertinacity of his purpose 
suggested an equal obstinacy of resistance on my part. 
Some will doubtless say that it argued very little pride, 
and a very weak self-esteem, in Con Cregan, to continue 
to impose his society where it had been so peremptorily 
declined; and so had it been, doubtless, had the scene 
been a great city, ruled and regulated by its thousand-and- 
one conventionalities. But the prairies are separated by 
something longer than mere miles from the land of kid 
gloves and visiting-tickets. Ceremonial in such latitudes 
would be as unsuitable as a court suit. 

Besides, I argued thus : ' A very underdone slice of 
tough venison, with a draught of spring water, constitute 
in these regions a very appetising meal ; and, for the same 
reason, a very morose friar, and a still sulkier servant, 
may be accepted as very tolerable travelling companions. 
Enjoy better when it can be had, Con, but prefer even the 
humblest fare to a famine' — a rule more applicable to 
mental food than to material. 

In a little self -colloquy after this kind, I crept stealthily 
back, leading Charry by the bridle, and halting at intervals 
to listen. What a triumph to my skill in divination as I 
heard the friar's loud voice overtopping the gushing flood, 
while he exhorted his beasts in the most energetic fashion ! 

I advanced cautiously till I gained a little clump of 
brushwood, from "which I could see the river and the group 
perfectly. The friar had now mounted the waggon, and 
held the reins ; the Mexican was, however, standing in the 
stream, and leading the cattle, who appeared to have re- 
gained somewhat more of their courage, and were slowly 
proceeding, sniffing timidly as they went, and pawing the 
water fretfully. 

The Mexican advanced boldly, till the water reached 
nigh the top of his great botas vaqueras, immense boots 



CON CREGAN 339 

of buffalo-hide, which, it is said, resist the bite of either 
cayman or serpent; and so far the horses went, doubt- 
less from the encouragement. As soon, however, as the 
deepening flood warned the man to mount the waggon, 
they halted abruptly, and stood pawing and splashing the 
stream, while their ears flattened back, and their drawn-in 
tails evinced the terror that was on them. 

Objurgations, entreaties, prayers, curses, menaces were 
all in vain — a step farther they would not budge. All 
that the Spanish contained of guttural was hurled at 
them without success ; the cow-hide whip might welt their 
flanks and leave great ridges at every stroke, the huge 
pole of the Mexican might belabour them, with a running 
accompaniment of kicks — but to no purpose. They cared 
as little for the cow-hide as the ' calendar ' — neither saints 
nor thrashings could persuade them to move on. Saint 
Anthony and Saint Ursula, Saint Forimund of Cordova, 
with various others, were invoked to no end. Saint 
Clement of Capua, to whom all poisonous reptiles, from 
boas to whipsnakes, owe allegiance, was called upon to aid 
the travellers ; but the quadrupeds took no heed of these 
entreaties, but showed a most Protestant contempt for 
the whole litany. 

There was a pause : wearied with flogging, and tired 
out with vain exhortations, both friar and Mexican ceased, 
and, as if in compensation to their long pent-up feelings, 
vented their anger in a very guttural round of maledic- 
tions upon the whole animal creation, and in particular 
on that part of it who would not be eaten by alligators 
without signs of resistance and opposition. Whether this 
new turn of events had any influence, or that the matter 
was more owing to 'natural causes,' I cannot say, but, 
just then, the horse which had been already bitten reared 
straight up, and with a loud snort plunged forward, carry- 
ing with him the other. By his plunge he had reached a 
deep part of the stream, where the water came half-way 
up his body. Another spring smashed one of the traces, and 



340 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

left him free to kick violently behind him — a privilege he 
certainly hastened to avail himself of. His fellow, whether 
from sympathy or not, imitated the performance, and there 
they were lashing and plunging with all their might while 
the waggon, against which the strong current beat in all 
its force, threatened at every instant to capsize. The friar 
struggled manfully, as did his follower ; but, unfortunately, 
one of the reins gave way, and by the violent tugging at 
the remaining one the animals were turned out of their 
course and dragged round to the very middle of the 
stream. About twenty yards lower down, the river fell 
by a kind of cascade some ten or twelve feet, and towards 
this spot now the infuriated horses seemed rushing. Had 
it been practicable, a strong man might, by throwing 
himself into the water, have caught the horses' heads and 
held them back, but the stream swarmed with poisonous 
reptiles, which made such an effort almost inevitable death. 
It was now a scene of terrible and most exciting 
interest. The maddened horses, alternately rising and 
sinking, writhed and twisted in agonies of pain. The 
men's voices mingled with the gushing torrent and the 
splashing water, which rose higher and higher at each 
plunge, while a shrill shriek from within the waggon 
topped all, and in its cadence seemed to speak a heart 
torn with terror. As I looked, the sun had set, and as 
speedily as though a curtain had fallen, the soft light of 
evening gave way to a grey darkness. I rode down to the 
bank, and as I reached it one of the horses, after a terrific 
struggle to get free, plunged head foremost down and 
disappeared. The other, unable by himself alone to resist 
the weight of the waggon, which already was floating in 
the stream, swung round with the torrent, and was now 
dragging along towards the cataract. The dusky indis- 
tinctness even added to the terror of the picture as the 
white water splashed up on every side, and at times 
seemed actually to cover the whole party in its scattering 
foam. The friar, now leaning back, tore open one of the 



'Jj , L r\ 




ti 



CON CREGAN 341 

curtains, and at the same instant I saw a female arm 
stretch out and clasp him, while a shrill cry burst forth 
that thrilled to my very heart. 

They were already within a few yards of the cataract — 
a moment or two more they must be over it and lost ! I 
spurred Charry forward, and down we plunged into the 
water, without the slightest thought of what was to 
follow. Half swimming, half bounding, I reached the 
waggon, which now, broadside on the falls, tottered with 
every stroke of the fast-rolling river. The Mexican was 
standing on the pole and endeavouring to hold back the 
horse ; while the friar, ripping the canvas with his knife, 
was endeavouring to extricate the female figure, who, 
sunk on her knees, seemed utterly incapable of any effort 
for her own safety. 

Whether maddened by the bite of some monster 
beneath the water, or having lost his footing, I know not, 
but the horse went over the falls, while the Mexican, 
vainly endeavouring to hold him, was carried down with 
him; the waggon, reeling with the shock, heeled over to 
the side and was fast sinking, when I caught hold of the 
outstretched hand of the woman and drew her towards 
me. 'Leap — spring towards him,' cried the friar; and 
she obeyed the words, and with a bound seated herself 
behind me. 

Breasting the water bravely Charry bounded on, and 
in less than a minute reached the bank, which the friar, 
by the aid of a leaping-pole, had gained before us. 

Having placed the half-lifeless girl on the sward, I 
hastened to see after the poor Mexican. Alas ! of him and 
the horse we never saw trace afterwards. We called 
aloud, we shouted, and even continued along the stream 
for a considerable space, but to no purpose; the poor 
fellow had evidently perished — perhaps by a death too 
horrible to think of. The friar wrung his hands in agony, 
and mingled his thanksgiving for his own safety with 
lamentations for his lost companion; and so intent was 



342 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

he on these themes that he never recognised me, nor, 
indeed, seemed conscious of my presence. At last, as we 
turned our steps towards where the girl lay, he said, ' Is it 
possible that you are the caballero we parted with before 
sunset ? ' 

' Yes,' said I, ' the same. You were loth to accept of my 
company, but you see there is a fate in it after all; you 
cannot get rid of me so readily.' 

'Nor shall we try, senhor,' said the girl passionately, 
but with a foreign accent in her words; as she took my 
hands and pressed them to her lips. 

The friar said something hastily in Spanish, which 
seemed a rebuke, for she drew back at once and buried 
her face in her mantle. 

' Donna Maria is my niece, senhor, and has only just left 
the convent of the " Sacred Heart." She knows nothing 
of the world, nor what beseems her as a young maiden.' 

This the friar spoke harshly, and with a manner that 
to me sounded far more in need of an apology than did 
the young girl's grateful emotion. 

What was to be done became now the question. We 
were at least thirty miles from Bexar, and not a village, 
nor even a log-hut, between us and that city. To go back 
was impossible; so that like practical people we at once 
addressed ourselves to the available alternative. 

' Picket your beast and let us light a fire,' said Fra 
Miguel, with the air of a man who would not waste life in 
vain regrets. ' Thank Providence, we have both grass and 
water; and although the one always brings snakes, and 
the other alligators, it is better than to bivouac on the 
Red River, with iron ore in the stream, and hard flints to 
sleep on.' 

Fastening my beast to a tree, I unstrapped my saddle- 
bags and removed my saddle ; disposing which most 
artistically in the fashion of an arm-chair for Donna 
Maria at the foot of a stupendous beech, I set about the 
preparation of a fire. The friar, however, had almost 



CON C REGAN 343 

anticipated me ; and with both arms loaded with dead 
wood sat himself down to construct a species of hearth, 
placing a little circle of stones around in such a way as to 
give a draught to the blaze. 

' We must fast to-night, senhor,' said he ; ' but it will 
count to us hereafter. Fan the fire with your hat, it will 
soon blaze briskly.' 

' If it were not for that young lady,' said I, ' whose 
sufferings are far greater than ours ' 

' Speak not of her, senhor ; Donna Maria de los Dolores 
was called after our Mother of Sorrows, and she may as 
well begin her apprenticeship to grief. She is the only 
child of my brother, who had sent her to be educated at 
New Orleans, and is now returning home to see her father 
before she takes the veil of her noviciate.' 

A very low sigh, so low as only to be audible to myself, 
came from beneath the beech-tree, and I threw a handful 
of dry chips upon the fire, hoping to catch a glimpse of the 
features of my fair fellow-traveller. Fra Miguel, how- 
ever, balked my stratagem by topping the fire with a stout 
log, as he said, ' You are too spendthrift, senhor ; we shall 
need to husband our resources, or we '11 not have enough 
for the night long.' 

' Would you not like to come nearer to the blaze 
sefihora ? ' said I respectfully. 

' Thanks, sir, but perhaps ' 

' Speak out, child,' broke in the father, ' speak out, and 
say that you are counting your rosary, and would not 
wish to be disturbed. And you, senhor, if I err not, in 
your eagerness to aid us, have forgotten to water your 
gallant beast — don't lead him to the stream, that would 
be unsafe ; take my sombrero : it has often served a like 
purpose before now. Twice full is enough for any horse 
in these countries.' I would have declined this offer, but I 
felt that submission in everything would be my safest 
passport to his good opinion, and so, armed with the 
' friar's beaver,' I made my way to the stream. 



344 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

Whatever his eulogies upon the pitcher-like qualities of 
his head -piece — to me they seemed most undeserved ; for 
scarcely had I filled it than the water ran through like a 
sieve. The of tener, too, was the process repeated the less 
chance did there appear of success ; for, instead of retain- 
ing the fluid at all, the material became so saturated that 
it threatened to tear in pieces every time it was filled, and 
ere I could lift it was totally empty. Half angry with the 
friar, and still more annoyed at my own ineptitude, I 
gave up the effort and returned to where I had left him, 
confessing my failure as I came forward. 

' Steep your 'kerchief in the stream, then, and wash the 
beast's mouth,' said he, upon his knees, where, with a 
great string of beads, he was engaged with his devotions. 

I retired, abashed at my intrusion, and proceeded to do 
as I was directed. 

'What if all these cares for my horse and all these 
devotional exercises were but stratagems to get rid of my 
company for a season?' thought I, as I perceived that 
scarcely had I left the spot than the friar arose from his 
knees and seemed to busy himself about something in the 
trees. Full of this impression I made a little circuit of 
the place ; and what was my surprise to observe that he 
had converted his upper robe of coarse blanket-cloth into 
a kind of hammock for Donna Maria, in which, fastened at 
either end to the bough of a tree, she was now swinging 
to and fro, with apparently all the pleasure of a happy 
child. 

' Don't you like it, uncle, after all ? ' said she, laughing ; 
' it 's exactly what one has read of in Juan Cordova's 
stories, to be bivouacking in a great forest, with a great 
fire to keep away the jaguars.' 

' Hush ! and go to sleep, child. I neither like it for 
thee nor myself. There are more dangerous things than 
jaguars in these woods.' 

' Ah ! you mean the bears, uncle ? ' 

' I do not,' growled he sulkily. 



CON CREGAN 345 

' As for snakes, one gets used to them ; besides, they go 
into the tall grass.' 

' Ay, ay, snakes in the grass, just so ! ' muttered the 
friar ; ' but this youth will be back presently, and let him 
not hear you talk such silly nonsense. Good-night, good- 
night.' 

' Good-night,' sighed she, ' but I cannot sleep ; I love so 
to see the fireflies dancing through the leaves, and to hear 
that rushing river.' 

• Hush ! he 's coming,' said the friar ; and all was still. 

When I came up, the friar was again sunk in holy 
meditation, so that, disposing myself beside the fire, with 
my rifle at one side and my pistols at the other, I lay 
down to sleep. Although I closed my eyes and lay still, I 
did not sleep. My thoughts were full of Donna Maria, of 
whom I weaved a hundred conjectures. It was evident 
she was young ; her voice was soft and musical too, and 
had that pleasant bell-like cadence so indicative of a light 
heart and a happy nature. Why was she called the ' Los 
Dolores ' ? I asked myself again and again, what had she 
in her joyousness to do with grief and care? and why 
should she enter a convent and become a nun? These 
were questions there was no solving, and apparently, if I 
might judge from the cadence of her now deep sigh, no 
less puzzling to herself than to me. The more my interest 
became excited for her, the stronger grew my dislike to 
the friar. That he was a surly old tyrant I perfectly satis- 
fied myself. What a pity that I could not rescue her from 
such cruelty as easily as I saved her from the cataract ! 

Would that I could even see her ! There was something 
so tormenting in the mystery of her concealment, and so, 
I deemed, must she herself feel it. We should be so happy 
together, journeying along day by day through the forest ! 
What tales would I not tell her of my wanderings, and 
how I should enjoy the innocence of her surprise at my 
travelled wonders ! And all the strange objects of these 
wild woods — how they would interest and amuse were 



346 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

there ' two ' to wonder at and admire them ! How I wished 
she might be pretty — what a disappointment if she were 
not — what a total rout to all my imaginings if she were 
to have red hair — how terrible if she should squint ! These 
thoughts at last became too tantalising for endurance, and 
so I tried to fall asleep and forget them, but in vain ; they 
had got too firm a hold of me, and I could not shake them 
off. 

It was now about midnight, the fire waxed low, and 
the friar was sound asleep. What connection was there 
between these considerations and her of whom I was 
thinking ? who knows ? I arose and sat up, listening with 
eager ear to the low long breathings of the friar, who, 
with his round bullet-head pillowed on a pine-log, slept 
soundly ; the gentle hum of the leaves, scarcely moved by 
the night wind, and the distant sound of the falling water, 
were lullabies to his slumber. It was a gorgeous night of 
stars — the sky was studded with bright orbs in all the 
brilliant lustre of a southern latitude. The fireflies, too, 
danced and glittered on every side, leaving traces of the 
phosphoric light on the leaves as they passed. The air was 
warm and balmy with the rich odour of the cedar and the 
acacia — just such a night as one would like to pass in 
' converse sweet ' with some dear friend, mingling past 
memories with shadowy dreams, and straying along from 
bygones to futurity. 

I crept over stealthily to where the friar lay : a lively 
fear prevailed with me that he might be feigning sleep, 
and so I watched him long and narrowly. No ! it was an 
honest slumber : the deep guttural of his mellow throat 
was beyond counterfeiting. I threw a log upon the fire 
carelessly, and with noise, to see if it would awake him ; 
but he only muttered a word or two, that sounded like 
Latin, and slept on. I now strained my eyes towards the 
hammock, of which, under the shadow of a great sycamore- 
tree, I could barely detect the outline through the leaves. 

Should I be able to discern her features were I to creep 



CON CREGAN 347 

over? What a difficult question, and how impossible to 
decide by mere reasoning upon it. What if I were to try ? 
It was a pure piece of curiosity — curiosity of the most 
harmless kind. I had been, doubtless, just as eager to 
scan the friar's lineaments if he had taken the same pains 
to conceal them from me. It was absurd, besides, to travel 
with a person and not see their face. Intercourse was a 
poor thing without that reciprocity which looks convey — 
I '11 have a peep, at all events, said I, summing up to myself 
all my arguments ; and with this resolve I moved cautiously 
along, and, making a wide circuit, came round to the foot 
of the sycamore, at the side most remote from the friar. 

There was the hammock almost within reach of my 
hand ! it seemed to swing to and fro. I cannot say if this 
were mere deception ; and so I crept nearer, just to satisfy 
my doubts. At last I reached the side, and peeped in. All 
I could see was the outline of a figure wrapped in a mantle, 
and a mass of soft silky hair, which fell over and shaded 
the face. It was some time before my eyes grew accus- 
tomed to the deep shadow of the spot ; but by degrees I 
could perceive the profile of a young and beautiful face 
resting upon one arm, the other hung negligently at one 
side, and the hand drooped over the edge of the hammock. 
The attitude was the very perfection of graceful ease, and 
such as a sculptor might have modelled. What a study, 
too, that hand, whose dimpled loveliness the starlight 
speckled ! How could I help touching it with my lips ? — 
the first time, with all the hallowed reverence a worshipper 
would vouchsafe to some holy relic; the second, with a 
more fervent devotion ; the third, I ventured to take the 
hand in mine and slightly press it. Did I dream? Could 
the ecstasy be no more than fancy ? — I thought the pressure 
was returned ! 

She turned gently around, and in a voice of surpassing 
softness whispered, 'Tell me your name, Seiihor Caballero?' 
I whispered low, ' Con Cregan.' 

* Yes, but what do your sisters call you?' 



348 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

I I have none, senhora.' 
' Your brothers, then ? ' 

' I never had a brother.' 

8 How strange ! nor I either. Then how shall I call you ? ' 

' Call me your brother,' said I, trying to repossess myself 
of the hand she had gently withdrawn from my grasp. 

' And will you call me Maria ? ' said she gaily. 

' If you permit it, Maria. But how will Fra Miguel 
think of it?' 

' Ah ! I forgot that. But what can he say ? You saved 
my life. I should have been carried away like poor 
Sancho but for you. Tell me how you chanced to be 
here, and where you are going, and whence you come, and 
all about you. Sit down there, on that stone. Nay, you 
needn't hold my hand while talking.' 

' Yes, but I 'm afraid to be alone here in the dark, 
Maria,' said I. 

' What a silly creature it is ! Now begin.' 

I I 'd rather talk of the future, Maria, dearest. I 'd rather 
we should speak of all the happy days we may spend 
together.' 

' But how so ? Once at Bexar, I 'm to wait at the 
monastery till my father sends his mules and people to 
fetch me home ; meanwhile you will have wandered away 
Heaven knows where.' 

' And where do you call home, Maria ? ' 

' Far away, beyond the Rio Grande, in the gold country, 
near Aguaverde.' 

' And why should I not go thither ? I am free to turn 
my steps whither I will. Perhaps your father would not 
despise the services of one who has some smattering of 
knowledge upon many a theme.' 

' But a caballero — a real senhor — turn miner ! They 
are all miners there.' 

'No matter: Fortune might favour me, and make me 
rich, and then — and then — who is to tell what changes 
might follow? The caballero might bid adieu to the 



CON CREGAN 349 

" Placer," and the fair "Donna Maria" wave a good-bye to 
the nunnery — and, by the way, that is a very cruel destiny 
they intend for you.' 

' Who knows ? I was very happy in the " Sacred Heart.'" 

' Possibly, Maria ; but you were a child, and would have 
been happy anywhere. But think of the future ; think of 
the time when you will be loved, and will love in turn ; 
think of that bright world of which the convent-window 
does not admit one passing glance. Think of the glorious 
freedom to enjoy whatever is beautiful in Nature, and to 
feel sympathies with all that is great and good ; and reflect 
upon the sad monotony of the cloister — its cold and cheer- 
less existence, uncared for, almost unfelt.' 

' And when the superior is cross ! ' cried she, holding up 
her hands. 

' And she is always cross, Maria. That austere habit 
repels every generous emotion, as it defies every expansion 
of the heart. No, no ; you must not be a nun.' 

' Well, I will not,' said she. 

' You promise me this, Maria ? ' 

' Yes, upon one condition : that you will come to the 
" Placer" and tell my father all that you have told to me. 
He is so good and so kind, he '11 never force me.' 

' But will he receive me ? Will your father permit me 
so to speak ? ' 

' You saved my life, senhor,' said she, half proudly, ' and 
little as you reckon such a service, it is one upon which 
Don Estaban Olares will set some store.' 

' Ah ! ' said I, sighing, ' how little merit had I in the feat ! 
It did not even cause me the slightest injury.' 

' I am just as gratified as though you had been eaten by 
an alligator, senhor,' said she, laughing with a sly malice 
that made me half suspect that some, at least, of her inno- 
cence was assumed. 

From this we wandered on to speak of the journey for 
the morrow, which I proposed she should make upon 
Charry, while Fra Miguel and myself accompanied her 



350 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

on foot. It was also agreed between us that we should 
preserve the most rigid reserve and distance of manner in 
the friar's presence, rarely noticing or speaking with each 
other. One only difficulty existed, which was by what 
pretence I should direct my steps to Aguaverde. But here 
again Donna Maria's ready wit suggested the expedient, as 
she said, laughing, ' Are you not making a pilgrimage to 
the shrine of Our Lady des " los Dolores " ?' 

' So I am,' said I. ' Shame on me that I should have 
forgotten it till now ! ' 

'Did you never tell me,' said she archly, 'that you 
intended to enter " an order" ? ' 

'Certainly,' said I, joining the merry humour; 'and so 
will I, on the very same day you take the veil.' 

'And now, holy man,' said she, with difficulty repress- 
ing a fresh burst of laughter, 'let us say good-night. 
Fra Miguel will awake at daybreak, and I see that is 
already near.' 

'Good-night, sweet sister,' said I, once again pressing 
her fingers to my lips, and scarcely knowing when to re- 
linquish them. A heavy sigh from the friar, however, 
admonished me to hasten away, and I crept to my place 
and lay down beside the now almost extinguished embers 
of our fire. 

' What a good thought was that of the pilgrimage,' said 
I, as I drew my cloak around me ; and I remembered that 
Chico's beads and his 'book of offices' were still among 
my effects in the saddle-bags, and would greatly favour 
my assumption of the pious character. I then tried to 
recall some of my forgotten Latin. From this I reverted 
to thoughts of Donna Maria herself, and half wondered at 
the rapid strides we had accomplished in each other's 
confidence. At last I fell asleep, to dream of every in- 
congruity and incoherency that ever haunted a diseased 
brain. Nunneries, with a crocodile for the abbess, gave 
way to scenes in the Placers, where nuns were gold- wash- 
ing and friars riding down cataracts on caymans. From 



CON CREGAN 351 

such pleasant realities a rough shake of Fra Miguel aroused 
me, as he cried, 'When a man laughs so heartily in his 
sleep, he may chance to keep all the grave thoughts for 
his waking. Rise up, senhor; the day is breaking. Let 
us profit by the cool hours to make our journey.' 

As day was breaking we set out for Bexar in the 
manner I had suggested : Donna Maria riding, the friar 
and myself, one either side of her, on foot. Resolved upon 
winning, so far as might be, Fra Miguel's confidence, I 
addressed my conversation almost exclusively to him, 
rarely speaking a word to my fair companion, and then 
only upon the commonest questions of the way. 

As none of us had eaten since the day previous, nor was 
there any baiting-place till we reached Bexar, it was 
necessary to make the best of our way thither with all 
speed. The fra knew the road perfectly, and by his skill 
in detecting the marks on trees, the position of certain 
rocks, and the course of the streams, gave me some insight 
into the acute qualities necessary for a prairie traveller. 
These themes, too, furnished the greater portion of our 
conversation, which I am free to own offered many a long 
interval of dreary silence. The fra's thoughts dwelt 
gloomily on his late disaster, while Donna Maria and 
myself were condemned to the occasional exchange of 
a chance remark, or some question about the road. 

Once or twice Fra Miguel questioned me on the subject 
of my own history ; but ere I had proceeded any length in 
detailing my veracious narrative, an accidental word or 
remark would show that he was inattentive to what I 
was speaking, and only occupied by his own immediate 
reflections. 

Why, then, trouble myself with biographical inventions, 
which failed to excite any interest ? and so I relapsed into 
a silence plodding and moody as his own. 

At length the path became too narrow for us all to go 
abreast, and as my duties were to guide Charry by the 
bridle, I became the companion of Maria by force of 



352 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

circumstances ; still Fra Miguel kept up close behind, and 
however abstracted at other times, he now showed himself 
'wide awake' on the subject of our intercourse. Denied 
the pleasure of talking to each other, we could at least 
exchange glances ; and this was a privilege no surveillance, 
however rigid, could deny us. These are small and in- 
significant details, which were of little moment at the 
time, and led to even less for the future, but I record 
them as the first stirrings of love in a heart which might 
have been deemed too intent upon its own cares to admit 
of others; and here let me observe that the taste for 
stratagem — the little wiles and snares inspired by a first 
passion — are among the strongest incentives to its origin. 
It was the secrecy of our meeting at night, the little 
difficulties of our intercourse by day, the peril of discovery 
as we spoke together, the danger of detection as we 
exchanged glances, that, by giving us a common object, 
suggested a common feeling. Both engaged in the same 
warfare, how could we avoid sympathising with each 
other. Then there was that little dash of romance 
about our first meeting so auxiliary to the tender passion ; 
and, again, we were wandering, side by side, in a silent 
forest, with only one other near us. Would we could have 
disposed of him too ! I shame to say it, but, in honest 
truth, I often found myself wishing that he had followed 
the Mexican ! 

We halted during the great heat of the day, and the 
fra once more ' rigging ' out his capote for a hammock, 
Donna Maria lay down for the siesta, while I cut grass 
for Charry, and rubbed her down. Long fasting had made 
us all more disposed to silence, so that a few monosyllables 
were all that passed. When the time came to resume the 
road, I am proud to say that the fra bore his privations 
with less equanimity than did we. His sighs grew heavy 
and frequent ; any accidental interruption on the road 
evoked unmistakable signs of irritation ; he even expostu- 
lated with certain saints, whose leaden images decorated 




cq 



CON CREGAN 353 

his sombrero, as to the precise reasons for which his 
present sufferings were incurred, and altogether, as 
hunger pinched, showed a more rebellious spirit than 
his holy discourses of the preceding evening could have 
led me to suspect. 

One time he charged his calamities to the score of 
having eaten turtle, which was only half fish, on a Friday ; 
at another, it was upon that unlucky day the journey had 
been begun ; then he remembered that the Mexican was 
only a half-breed, who possibly, if baptized at all, was only 
an irregular kind of a Christian, admitted into the fold by 
some stray missionary — more trapper than priest. Then 
he bethought him that his patron, Saint Michel of Pavia, 
was of an uncertain humour, and often tormented his 
votaries by way of trying their fidelity. These various 
doubts assumed the form of open grumblings, which cer- 
tainly inspired very different sentiments in Donna Maria 
and myself than edification. As evening closed in, and 
darkness favoured us, these ghostly lamentations afforded 
us many a low, quiet laugh ; a soft pressure of the hand, 
which now, by mere accident of course, she had let fall 
near me, would sometimes show how we concurred in our 
sentiments, till at length, as the thicker gloom of night 
fell around, such was our unanimity that her hand re- 
mained clasped in my own without any further attempt 
to remove it. 

If the fra's gratitude burst forth eloquently as we came 
in sight of some spangled lights glittering through the 
gloom, our sensations were far more akin to disappoint- 
ment. 

' Bexar at last ! praised be St. Michel ! ' exclaimed he. 
' It has been a long and dreary journey.' Here I pressed 
Donna Maria's hand, and she returned the pressure. 

' Two days of disaster and sore suffering ! ' Another 
squeeze of the sefihora's fingers. 

' A time I shall never forget,' muttered he. 

' Nor I,' whispered I to my fair companion. 
13 z 



354 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

' A season of trouble and distress ! ' quoth the f ra. 

' Of love and happiness ! ' muttered I. 

' And now, my worthy young friend,' said he, addressing 
me, ' as we are so soon to part — for yonder is Bexar — how 
shall we best show our gratitude ? Would you like a 
" novena " to " Our Lady of Tears," whose altar is here ? or 
shall we vow a candle to St. Nicomede of Terapia ? ' 

' Thanks, holy father, there is no need for either ; mine 
was a slight service, more than requited by the pleasure of 
travelling in your company, and that of this pious maiden. 
I have learned many a goodly lesson by the way, and will 
think over them as I wander on my future pilgrimage.' 

' And whither may that tend, senhor ? ' 

' To the shrine of " Our Lady of Sorrows," at Aguaverde, 
by the help of St. Francis.' 

' Aguaverde ! ' exclaimed Fra Miguel, with a voice that 
bespoke anything rather than pleasure ; ' it is a long and a 
dangerous journey, young man !' 

' The greater the merit, father ! ' 

' Trackless wastes and deep rivers, hostile Indians and 
even more cruel half-breeds. These are some of the perils,' 
said he, in a voice of warning ; but a gentle pressure from 
the senhora's fingers was more than an answer to such 
terrors. 

' You can make your penance here, young man, at the 
convent of the missions. There are holy men who will 
give you all good counsel ; and I will myself speak to them 
for you.' 

I was about to decline this polite intervention, when a 
quiet gesture from Donna Maria arrested my words and 
made me accept the offer with thanks. 

Thus chatting, we reached the suburbs of Bexar, and 
soon entered the main street of that town ; and here let 
me record a strange feature of the life of this land, which, 
although one that I soon became accustomed to, had a 
most singular aspect to my eyes on first acquaintance. It 
was a hot and sultry night of June, the air as dry and 



CON CREGAN 355 

parched as of a summer day in our English climate, and 
we found that the whole population had their beds dis- 
posed along the streets, and were sleeping for the benefit 
of the cool night air — al fresco. There was no moon, nor 
any lamp-light, but by the glimmering stars we could see 
this strange encampment, which barely left a passage in 
the middle for the mule-carts. 

Some of the groups were irresistibly droll : here was 
an old lady, with a yellow -and -red handkerchief round 
her head, snoring away, while a negro wench waved a 
plantain bough to and fro to keep off the musquitoes, 
which thronged the spot from the inducement of a little 
glimmering lamp to the Virgin over the bed. There was 
a thin lantern-jawed old fellow sipping his chocolate 
before he resigned himself to sleep. Now and then there 
would be a faint scream and a muttered apology, as some 
one, feeling his way to his nest, had fallen over the couch 
of a sleeper. Mothers were nursing babies, nurses were 
singing others to rest ; social spirits were recalling the last 
strains of recent convivialities, while others, less genially 
given, were uttering their ' Carambas ' in all the vindictive 
anger of broken slumber. Now and then a devotional 
attitude might be detected, and even some little glimpses 
caught of some fair form making her toilette for the 
night, and throwing back her dishevelled hair to peer at 
the passing strangers. 

Such were the scenes that even a brief transit pre- 
sented; a longer sojourn, and a little more light, had 
doubtless discovered still more singular ones. 

We halted at the gate of a large, gloomy-looking 
building, which the friar informed me was the 'Venta 
Nazionale,' the chief inn of the town ; and by dint of much 
knocking, and various interlocutions between Fra Miguel 
and a negro, four storeys high, the gates were at length 
opened. Faint, hungry, and tired, I had hoped that we 
should have supped in company, and thus recompensed me 
for my share of the successful issue of the journey ; but 



356 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

the fra, giving his orders hastily, wished me an abrupt 
good-night, and led his niece up the narrow stairs, leaving 
me and my mare in the gloomy entrance, like things 
whose services were no longer needed. 

'This may be Texan gratitude, Fra Miguel,' said I to 
myself, ' but certainly you never brought it from your own 
country.' Meanwhile the negro, after lighting the others 
upstairs, returned to where I was, and perhaps not im- 
pressed by any high notions of my quality, or too sleepy 
to think much about the matter, sat down on a stone 
bench, and looked very much as if about to compose him- 
self to another doze. I was in no mood of gentleness, and 
so bestowing a hearty kick upon my black ' brother,' I 
told him to show me the way to the stable at once. The 
answer to this somewhat rude summons was a strange 
one — he gave a kind of grin that showed all his teeth, 
and made a species of hissing noise, like ' Cheet, cheet,' 
said rapidly — a performance I had never witnessed before, 
nor, for certain reasons, have I any fancy to witness again. 

'Do you hear me, black fellow?' cried I, tapping his 
bullet-head with the end of my heavy whip, pretty much 
as one does a tavern-table to summon the waiter. 

' Cheet, cheet, cheet,' cried he again, but with redoubled 
energy. 

' Confound your jargon,' said I angrily ; ' get up out of 
that and lead the way to the stable.' This speech I accom- 
panied by another admonition from my foot, given, I am 
free to own, with all the irritable impatience of a thirty 
hours' fast. 

The words had scarcely passed my lips ere the fellow 
sprang to his legs, and with a cry like the scream of an 
infuriated beast, dashed at me. I threw out my arm as a 
guard, but stooping beneath it, he plunged a knife into my 
side and fled. I heard the heavy bang of the great door 
resound as he rushed out, and then fell to the ground, 
weltering in my blood ! 

I made a great effort to cry out, but my voice failed 



CON CREGAN 



357 



me; the blood ran fast from my wound, and a chill, 
sickening sensation crept over me, that I thought must 
be death. ' Tis hard to die thus,' was the thought that 
visited me, and it was the last effort of consciousness 
ere I swooned into insensibility. 




THE LAZARETTO OP BEXAR 

IND-HEARTED reader— you who 
have sympathised with so many 
of the rubs that fortune ha,s dealt us, who have watched 
us with a benevolent interest in our warfare with an 
adverse destiny, who have marked our struggles and 
witnessed our defeats, will surely compassionate our sad 
fate when we tell you that when the curtain next rises on 
our drama it presents us no longer what we had been ! 
Con Cregan, the light-hearted vagrant, paddling his 



358 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

lone canoe down life's stream in joyous merriment, him- 
self sufficing to himself, his eyes ever upward as his hopes 
were onward, his crest an eagle's, and his motto ' higher,' 
was no more. He had gone — vanished, been dissipated 
into thin air ; and, in his place there sat, too weak to walk, 
a poor emaciated creature, with shaven head and shrunken 
limbs, a very wreck of humanity, pale, sallow, and miser- 
able as fever and flannel could paint him. 

Yes, gentle reader, under the shade of a dwarf fig-tree, 
in the Leper Hospital of Bexar, I sat, attired in a whole 
suit of flannel, of a pale-brown tint, looking like a faded 
flea — all my gay spirits fled, and my very identity merged 
into the simple fact that I was known as ' Convalescent, 
No. 303,' an announcement which, for memory's sake 
perhaps, was stamped upon the front of my nightcap. 

Few people are fortunate enough not to remember the 
strange jumble of true and false, the incoherent tissue of 
fact and fancy, which assails the first moments of recovery 
from illness. It is a pitiable period, with its thronging 
thoughts, all too weighty for the light brain that should 
bear them. You follow your ideas like an ill-mounted 
horseman in a hunt : no sooner have you caught a glimpse 
of the game than it is lost again ; on you go, wearied by 
the pace but never cheered by success ; often tumbling 
into a slough, missing your way, and mistaking the object 
of pursuit ; such are the casualties in either case, and they 
are not enviable ones. 

Now, lest I should seem to be a character of all others 
I detest, a grumbler without cause, let me ask the reader 
to sit beside me for a few seconds on this bench, and look 
with me at the prospect around him. Yonder, that large 
white building, with grated windows, gaol-like and sad, is 
the Leper Hospital of Bexar, an institution originally 
intended for the sick of that one malady, but, under the 
impression of its being contagious, generously extended 
to those labouring under any other disease. The lepers 
are that host who sit in groups upon the grass, at cards or 



CON CREGAN 359 

dice, or walk in little knots of two or three. Their 
shambling gait and crippled figures — the terrible evidence 
of their malady — twisted limbs, contorted into every 
horrible variety of lameness, hands with deficient fingers, 
faces without noses, are the ordinary symbols. The voices, 
too, are either husky and unnatural, or reduced to a thin 
reedy treble, like the wail of an infant. Worse than all, 
far more awful to contemplate, to him exposed to such 
companionship, their minds would appear more diseased 
than even their bodies ; some evincing this aberration by 
traits of ungovernable passion, some by the querulous 
irritability of peevish childhood, and some by the fatuous 
vacuity of idiocy; and here am I, gazing upon all this, 
and speculating, by the aid of a little bit of broken 
looking-glass, how long it is probable that I shall retain 
the ' regulation ' number of the human features. 

Ah, you gentlemen of England, who live at home at 
ease, may smile at such miseries ; but let me tell you, that 
however impertinent you might deem him who told you 
■ to follow your nose,' the impossibility of compliance is a 
yet heavier infliction, and it was with a trembling eager- 
ness that each morning, as I awoke, I consulted the map 
of my face to be sure that I was master of each geo- 
graphical feature. 

While all who may break a leg or cut a blood-vessel are 
reckoned fit subjects to expose to the risk of this con- 
tagion, the most guarded measures are adopted to protect 
the world without the walls from every risk. Not only is 
every leper denied access to his friends and family, but 
even written communication is refused him, while sentinels 
are stationed at short intervals around the grounds, with 
orders to fire upon any who should attempt an escape. 

Here then was I in gaol, with the danger of a horrible 
disease superadded. Algebraically, my case stood thus : — 
Letting the letter P represent a prison, L the leprosy, and 
N my nose, P + L — N being equal to any given number of 
deaths by torture. Such was my case, such my situation ; 



360 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

while of the past, by what chain of events I came to be 
thus a prisoner, I knew nothing. A little memoir at the 
head of my bed set forth that I was ' a case of punctured 
wound in the thorax,' with several accessory advantages, 
not over intelligible by my ignorance, but which I guessed 
to imply, that if the doctor didn't finish me off at once, 
there was every chance of my slipping away by a lingering 
malady — some one of those 'chest affections,' that make 
the fortunes of doctors, but are seldom so profitable to the 
patients. 

One fact was, however, very suggestive. It was above 
four months since the date of my admission to the hospital, 
a circumstance that vouched for the gravity of my illness, 
as well as showing what a number of events might have 
occurred in the interval. 

Four months ! and where was Donna Maria now ? Had 
she forgotten me — forgotten the terrible scene on the 
Colorado — forgotten the starlit night in the forest? 
Had they left me without any interest in my future — 
deserted me, wounded, perhaps dying? — a sad return 
for the services I had rendered them! That Fra Miguel 
should have done this would have caused me no surprise ; 
but the sehhora — she who sprang by a bound into intimacy 
with me, and called me brother ! Alas ! if this were so, 
what faith could be placed in woman ? 

In vain I sought information on these points from those 
around me. My Spanish was not the very purest Castilian, 
it is true, but here another and greater obstacle to know- 
ledge existed — no one cared anything for the past and very 
little for the future. The last event that held a place in 
their memory was the day of their admission ; the fell 
malady was the centre round which all thoughts revolved, 
and I was regarded as a kind of visionary when asking 
about circumstances that occurred before I entered the 
hospital. There were vague and shadowy rumours about 
me and my adventure — so much I could find out; but what- 
ever these were, scarcely two agreed on — not one cared. 



CON C REGAN 361 

Some said I had killed a priest — others averred it was a 
negro — a few opined that I had done both ; and an old 
mulatto woman, with a face like a target, the bull's-eye 
being represented by where the nose ought to be, related a 
more connected narrative about my having stolen a horse, 
and being overtaken by a negro slave of the owner, who 
rescued the animal and stabbed me. 

All the stories tallied in one particular, which was in 
representing me as a fellow of the most desperate character 
and determination, and who cared as little for shedding 
blood as spilling water — traits, I am bound to acknowledge, 
which never appeared to lower me in general esteem. Of 
course, all inquiries as to my horse, poor Charry — my 
precious saddle-bags, my rifle, my bowie-knife, and my 
' Harper's Ferry,' would have proved less than useless — 
actually absurd. The patients would have reckoned such 
questions as little vagaries of mental wandering, and the 
servants of the house never replied to anything. 

My next anxiety was, when I should be at liberty? 
The doctor, when I asked him, gave a peculiar grin, and 
said, ' We cannot spare you, amigo ; we shall want to 
look at your pericardium one of these days. / say it is 
perforated — Don Emanuel says not. Time will tell who 's 
right.' 

' You mean when I 'm dead, senhor, of course ? ' cried I, 
not fancying the chance of resolving the difficulties by 
being carved alive. 

1 Of course I do,' said he. ' Yours is a very instructive 
case ; and I shall take care that your heart and a portion 
of the left lung be carefully injected, and preserved in the 
museum.' 

' May you live a thousand years ! ' said I, bowing my 
gratitude, while a chill crept over me that I thought I 
should have fainted. 

I have already mentioned that sentries were placed at 
intervals round the walls to prevent escape, a precaution 
which, were one to judge from the desolate and crippled 



362 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

condition of the inmates, savoured of over care. A few 
were able to crawl along upon crutches, the majority were 
utterly helpless, while the most active were only capable 
of creeping up the bank which formed the boundary of 
the grounds, to look down into the moat beneath, a descent 
of some twenty feet, but which, to imaginations such as 
theirs, was a gulf like the crater of a volcano. 

Whenever a little group, then, would station themselves 
on the ' heights,' as they were called, and gaze timidly into 
the depths below, the guards, far from dispersing them, 
saw that no better lesson could be administered than what 
their own fears suggested, and prudently left them to the 
admonitions of their terrors. I remembered this fact, and 
resolved to profit by it. If death were to be my lot, it 
could not come anywhere with more horrors than here, 
so that, happen what might, I resolved to make an effort 
at escape. The sentry's bullet had few terrors for one 
who saw himself surrounded by such objects of suffering 
and misery, and who daily expected to be one of their 
number. Were the leap to kill me, a circumstance that 
in my weak and wounded condition I judged far from 
unlikely, it was only anticipating a few days — and what 
days were they ! 

Such were my calculations, made calmly and with 
reflection. Not that I was weary of life ; were the world 
but open to me, I felt I should resume all my former zest 
in its sayings and doings — nay, I even fancied that the 
season of privation would give a higher colour to my 
enjoyment of it; and I know that the teachings of 
adversity are not the least useful accessories of him 
whose wits must point the road to fortune. True is it, 
the emergencies of life evoke the faculties and develop 
the resources, as the storm and the shipwreck display the 
hardy mariner. Who knows, Con, but good -luck may 
creep in even through a punctured wound in the thorax ! 

As the day closed, the patients were always recalled by 
a bell, and patrol parties of soldiers went round to see if 



CON CREGAN 363 

by accident any yet lingered without the walls. The per- 
formance of this duty was, however, most slovenly, since, as 
I have already said, escape never occurred to those whose 
apathy of mind and infirmity of body had made them 
indifferent to everything. I lingered, then, in a distant 
alley as the evening began to fall, and when the bell rung 
out its dismal summons I trembled to think — was it the 
last time I should ever hear it ! It was a strange thrill of 
mingled hope and terror. Where should I be the next 
evening at that hour ? Free, and at liberty — a wanderer 
wherever fancy might lead me, or the occupant of some 
narrow bed beneath the earth, sleeping the sleep that 
knows no waking? And, if so, who could less easily be 
missed than him who had neither friend, nor family, nor 
fortune. I felt that my departure, like that of some insig- 
nificant guest, would meet notice from none : not one to 
ask what became of him ? when did he leave us ? to whom 
did he say farewell ? 

If there was something unspeakably sad in the solitude 
of such a fate, there was that also which nerved the heart 
by a sense of self-sufficiency — the very brother of inde- 
pendence ; and this thought gave me courage as I looked 
over the grassy embankment and peered into the gloomy 
fosse, which now, in the indistinct light, seemed far deeper 
than ever. A low marshy tract, undrained and unin- 
habitable, surrounded the ' Lazaretto ' for miles ; and if 
this insalubrious neighbourhood assisted in keeping up 
the malaria of fever, it compensated, on the other hand, 
by interposing an unpopulated district between the sick 
and the healthy. 

These dreary wastes, pathless and untrodden, were a 
kind of fabulous region among the patients for all kind of 
horrors, peopled as the fancy of each dictated by the spirits 
of departed Uperos, by venomous serpents and cobras 
or by escaped galley-slaves, who led a life of rapine and 
murder. The flitting jack-o'-lantern that often skimmed 
along the surface, the wild cry of the plover, the dreary 



364 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

night wind sighing over miles of plain, aided these super- 
stitions, and convinced many whose stubborn incredulity 
demanded corroboration from the senses. As for myself, 
if very far from crediting the tales I had so often listened 
to, the theme left its character of gloom upon my mind; 
and it was with a cold shudder that I strained my eyes 
over the wide distance, from which a heavy exhalation was 
already rising. Determined to derive comfort from every 
source, I bethought me that the misty fog would assist 
my concealment, as if it were worth while to pursue me 
through a region impregnated with all the vapours of 
disease ! The bell had ceased, the bang of the great iron 
wicket had resounded, and all was still. I hesitated, I 
know not why; a moment before, my mind was made 
up, and now it seemed like self-destruction to go on! 
Here was life ! a sad and terrible existence truly ; but was 
the dark grave better? or, if it were, had I the right 
to make the choice? — this was a subtlety that had not 
occurred till now. The dull tramp of the patrol routed 
my musings, as in quick time a party advanced up the 
alley towards me. They were not visible from the dark- 
ness, but the distance could not be great, and already I 
could hear the corporal urging them forward, as the mists 
were rising, and a deadly fog gathering over the earth. 
Any longer delay now, and my project must be abandoned 
for ever, seeing that my lingering outside the walls would 
expose me to close surveillance for the future. 

I arose suddenly and advanced to the very edge of the 
cliff : would that I could only have scanned the depth 
below, and seen where I was about to go ! Alas ! darkness 
was on all; a foot beneath where I stood all was black and 
undistinguishable. 

The patrol were now about thirty paces from me ; 
another instant and I should be taken ! I clasped my 
hands together convulsively, and with drawn-in breath 
and clenched lips I bent my knees to spring. Alas, they 
would not ! my strength failed me at this last moment, 



CON CREGAN 365 

and instead of a leap, my limbs relaxed, and, tottering 
under me, gave way. I lost my balance and fell over the 
cliff ! Grasping the grassy surface with the energy of 
despair, I tore tufts of long grass and fern as I fell down 
— down — down — till consciousness left me, to be rallied 
again into life by a terrible ' squash ' into a reedy swamp 
at the bottom. Up to my waist in duck-weed and muddy 
water, I soon felt, however, that I had sustained no other 
injury than a shock — nay, even fancied that the concussion 
had braced my nerves; and as I looked up at the dark 
mass of wall above me, I knew that my fall must have 
been terrific. 

Neither my bodily energy nor my habiliments favoured 
me in escaping from this ditch, but I did rescue myself at 
last ; and then remembering that I must reach some place 
of refuge before day broke, I set out over the moor, my 
only pilotage being the occasionally looking back at the 
lights of the hospital, and in sailor-fashion using them as 
my point of departure. When creeping along the walks 
of the Lazaretto I was barely able to move, and now, 
such a good ally is a strong will, I stepped out boldly 
and manfully. 

As I walked on, the night cleared : a light fresh breeze 
dissipated the vapour and refreshed me as I went, while 
overhead, myriads of bright stars shone out, and served to 
guide me on the trackless waste. If I often felt fatigue 
stealing over me, a thought of the Lazaretto and its 
fearful inmates nerved me to new efforts. Sometimes, so 
possessed did I become with these fears, that I actually 
increased my speed to a run, and thus exerting myself to 
the very utmost, I made immense progress, and, ere day 
began to break, found myself at the margin of the moor, 
and the entrance to a dense forest, which I remembered 
often to have seen of a clear evening from the garden of 
the Lazaretto. With what gratitude did I accept that 
leafy shade which seemed to promise me its refuge ! I 
threw my arms around a tree in the ecstasy of my delight. 



366 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

and felt that now indeed I had gained a haven of rest and 
safety. By good fortune, too, I came upon a pathway ; a 
small piece of board nailed to a tree bore the name of a 
village, but this I could not read in the half-light ; still it 
was enough that I was sure of a beaten track, and could 
not be lost in the dense intricacies of a pine-forest. 

The change of scene encouraged me to renewed exer- 
tion, and I began to feel that, so far from experiencing 
fatigue, each mile I travelled supplied me with greater 
energy, and that my strength rose each hour, as I left the 
Lazaretto farther behind me. 

' Ah, Con, my boy, fortune has not taken leave of you 
yet!' said I, as I discovered that my severe exercise, far 
from being injurious, as I had feared, was already bringing 
back the glow of health to my frame and spirit to my heart. 

There is something unspeakably calming in the solitude 
of a forest ; unlike the lone sensations inspired by the sea 
or the prairie, the feeling is one of peaceful quietude. 
The tempered sunlight stealing through the leaves and 
boughs entangled ; the giant trunks that tell of centuries 
ago ; the short, smooth, mossy turf through which the tiny 
rivulet runs without a channel; the little vistas opening 
like alleys, or ending in some shady nook, bowerlike and 
retired, fill the mind with a myriad of pleasant fancies. 
Instead of wandering forth over the immensity of space, 
as when contemplating the great ocean or the desert, the 
heart here falls back upon itself, and is satisfied with the 
little world around it. 

Such were my reveries as I lay down beneath a tree, at 
first to muse and then to sleep, and such a sleep as only 
a weary foot-traveller knows, who, stretched under the 
shade of a spreading tree, lies dreamless and lost. It must 
have been late ere I awoke ; the sunlight came slanting 
obliquely through the leaves, and bespoke the decline of 
day. I rose ; at first my limbs were stiff and rigid, and my 
sensations those of debility; but after a little time my 
strength came back and I strode along freely. Con- 



CON CREGAN 367 

tinuing the path, I came, after about three hours' fast 
walking, to a little open spot in the wood, where the 
remains of a hut, and the charred fragments of firewood, 
indicated a bivouac ; some morsels of black bread strewn 
about, and a stray piece of dried venison, argued that the 
party who had left them had but recently quitted the 
spot. Very grateful for the negligent abundance of their 
waste, I sat down, and by the aid of a little spring, the 
reason, probably, of the selection of the spot for a halt, 
made a capital supper, some chestnuts that had fallen 
from the trees furnishing a delicious dessert. Night was 
fast closing in, and I resolved on passing it where I was, 
the shelter of the little hut being too tempting a refuge to 
relinquish easily. The next morning I started early, my 
mind fully satisfied that I was preceded by some foot 
party, the path not admitting of any other, with whom, 
by exertion, I should be perhaps able to come up. I 
walked from day to dawn with scarcely an interval of 
rest; but, although the tracks of many feet showed me 
my conjecture was right, I did not succeed in overtaking 
them. Towards evening I again came upon their bivouac- 
ground, which was even more abundantly provided than 
the preceding one. They appeared to have killed a buck, 
and though having roasted an entire side, had contented 
themselves with some steaks off the quarter. Upon this I 
feasted luxuriously, securing a sufficient provision to last 
me for the next two or three days. 

In this way I continued to travel for eight entire days, 
each successive one hoping to overtake the party in 
advance; and if disappointed in this expectation, well 
pleased with the good-luck that had supplied me so far 
with food, and made my journey safe and pleasant, for it 
was both. A single beast of prey I never met with, nor 
even a serpent larger than the common green snake, 
which is neither venomous nor bold ; and, as for pleasure, 
I was free. Was not that alone happiness for him who 
had been a prisoner among the leperos of Bexar ? 



368 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

On the ninth day of my wandering, certain unmis- 
takable signs indicated that I was approaching the verge 
of the forest: the grass became deeper, the wood less 
dense; the undergrowth, too, showed the influence of 
winds and currents of air. These, only appreciable by 
him who has watched with anxious eyes every little 
change in the aspect of nature, became at last evident to 
the least observant in the thickened bark and the twisted 
branches of the trees, on which the storms of winter were 
directed. Shall I own it ? — my heart grew heavy at these 
signs, boding, as they did, another change of scene, and 
to what? Perhaps the bleak prairie stretching away in 
dreary desolation! Perhaps some such tract of swampy 
moor, where forests once had stood, but now, lying in 
mere waste of rottenness and corruption. ' Clearings,' as 
they are called — the little intervals which hard industry 
plants amid universal wildness — I could not hope for, since 
I had often heard that no settlers ever selected these 
places, to which access by water was difficult, and the 
roads few and bad. What, then, was to come next ? Not 
the sea-coast — that must be miles away to the eastward ; 
not the chain of the Rocky Mountains — they lay equally 
far to the west. 

While yet revolving these thoughts, I reached the 
verge of the wood; and suddenly, and without anything 
which might apprise me of this singular change, I found 
myself standing on the verge of a great bluff of land 
overlooking an apparently boundless plain. The sight 
thus unexpectedly presented of a vast prairie — for such it 
was — was overwhelming in its intense interest. My posi- 
tion, from a height of some seven or eight hundred feet, 
gave me an uninterrupted view over miles and miles of 
surface. Towards the far west a ridge of rugged mountains 
could be seen, but to the south and east a low flat horizon 
bounded the distance. The surface of this great tract was 
covered for a short space by dry cedars, apparently killed 
by a recent fire; beyond that, a tall, rank grass grew, 



CON CREGAN 369 

through which I could trace something like a road. This 
was, as I afterwards learned, a buffalo-trail, these animals 
frequently marching in close column when in search of 
water. The sun was setting as I looked, and gilded the 
whole vast picture with its yellow glory ; but as it sank 
beneath the horizon, and permitted a clearer view of the 
scene, I could perceive that everything — trees, grass, earth 
itself — presented one uniform dry, burnt-up appearance. 

Not a creature of any kind was seen to move over this 
great plain; not a wing cleaved the air above; not a 
sound broke the stillness beneath. It was a solitude the 
most complete I ever conceived — grand and imposing. 
How my heart sank within me as I sat and looked, 
thinking I was there alone, without one creature near 
me, to linger out, perhaps, some few days or hours of life, 
and die unseen, unwatched, uncared for ! And to this sad 
destiny had ambition brought me ! Were it not for the 
craving desire to become something above my station — to 
move in a sphere to which neither my birth nor my 
abilities gave me any title — and I should be now the 
humble peasant, living by my daily labour in my native 
land, my thoughts travelling in the worn track those of 
my neighbours journeyed, and I neither better nor worse 
off than they. 

And for this wish — insensate, foolish, as it was — the 
expiation is indeed heavy. I hid my head within my 
hands and tried to pray, but I could not. The mind 
harassed by various conflicting thoughts is not in the best 
mood for supplication. I felt like the criminal of whom I 
had once read, that when the confessor came to visit him 
the night before his execution, seemed eager and attentive 
for a while, but at last acknowledged that his thoughts 
were centred upon one only theme — escape ! ' To look 
steadfastly at the next world you must extinguish the 
light of this one ' ; and how difficult is that ! — how hard to 
close every chink and fissure through which hope may 
dart a ray! — hope of life, hope of renewing the struggle 
13 2 a 



370 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

in which we are so often defeated, and where even the 
victory is without value. 

' Be it so,' sighed I, at last ; ' the game is up ! ' and I 
lay down at the foot of a rock to die. My strength, long 
sustained by expectation, had given way at last, and I felt 
that the hour of release could not be distant. I drew my 
hand across my eyes — I am ashamed to own there were 
tears there — and just then, as if my vision had been cleared 
by the act, I saw, or I thought I saw, in the plain beneath, 
the glittering sparkle of flame. Was it the reflection of a 
star, of which thousands were now studding the sky, in 
some pool of rain-water ? No ! it was real fire, which now, 
from one red spark, burst forth into a great blaze, rolling 
out volumes of black smoke, which rose like a column into 
the air. 

Were they Indians who made it, or trappers ? or could 
it be the party in whose track I had so long been following; 
and, if so, by what path had they descended ? Speculation 
is half-brother to hope. No sooner had I begun to canvass 
this proposition than it aroused my drooping energies 
and rallied my failing courage. 

I set about to seek for some clue to the descent, and by 
the moonlight, which was now full and strong, I detected 
foot-tracks in the clayey soil near the verge of the cliff, 
A little after I found a narrow pathway, which seemed 
to lead down the face of the bluff. The trees were 
scratched, too, in many places with marks familiar to 
prairie travellers, but which to me only betokened the 
fact that human hands had been at "work upon them. I 
gained courage by these, which, at least, I knew were 
not 'Indian signs,' no more than the foot-tracks were 
those of Indian feet. 

The descent was tedious, and often perilous ; the path, 
stopping abruptly short at rocks, from which the interval 
to the next footing should be accomplished by a spring, 
or a drop of several feet, was increased in danger by the 
indistinct light. In the transit I received many a sore 



CON CREGAN 371 

bruise, and ere I reached the bottom my flannel drapery 
was reduced to a string of rags which would have done no 
credit to a scarecrow. 

When looking from the top of the cliff, the fire appeared 
to be immediately at its foot ; but now I perceived it stood 
about half a mile off in the plain. Thither I bent my steps, 
half fearing, half hoping, what might ensue. So wearied 
was I by the fatigue of the descent, added to the long day's 
journey, that even in this short space I was often obliged 
to halt and take rest. Exhaustion, hunger, and lassitude 
weighed me down, till I went along with that half -despair- 
ing effort a worn-out swimmer makes as his last before 
sinking. 

A more pitiable object it would not be easy to picture. 
The blood oozing from my wound, reopened by the exer- 
tion, had stained my flannel dress, which, ragged and torn, 
gave glimpses of a figure reduced almost to a skeleton. 
My beard was long, adding to the seeming length of my 
gaunt and lantern jaws, blue with fatigue and fasting. 
My shoes were in tatters, and gave no protection to my 
bleeding feet ; while my hands were torn and cut by grasp- 
ing the rocks and boughs in my descent. Half stumbling, 
half tottering, I came onward, till I found myself close to 
the great fire at the base of a mound — a 'prairie roll,' 
as it is called — which formed a shelter against the east 
wind. 

Around the immense blaze sat a party, some of whom 
in shadow, others in strong light, presented a group the 
strangest ever my eyes beheld. Bronzed and bearded 
countenances, whose fierce expression glowed fiercer in 
the ruddy glare of the fire, were set off by costumes the 
oddest imaginable. 

Many wore coats of undressed sheepskin, with tall caps 
of the same material ; others had ragged uniforms of 
different services. One or two were dressed in ' ponchos ' 
of red-brown cloth, like Mexicans, and some again had 
a kind of buff coat, studded with copper ornaments — a 



372 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

costume often seen among the half-breeds. All agreed in 
one feature of equipment, which was a broad leather 
belt or girdle, in which were fastened various shining im- 
plements, of which a small pick-axe and a hammer were 
alone distinguishable where I stood. Several muskets 
were piled near them, and on the scorched boughs of the 
cedars hung a little armoury of cutlasses, pistols, and 
' bowies,' from which I was able to estimate the company 
at some twenty-eight or thirty in number. Packs and 
knapsacks, with some rude cooking utensils, were strewn 
around; but the great carcass of a deer which I saw in 
the flames, supported by a chevaux de frise of ramrods, 
was the best evidence that the cares of cuisine did not 
demand any unnecessary aid from casseroles. 

A couple of great earthen pitchers passed rapidly from 
hand to hand round the circle, and, by the assistance 
of some blackhead, served to beguile the time while the 
' roast ' was being prepared. 

Creeping noiselessly nearer, I gained a little clump of 
brushwood scarcely more than half-a-dozen paces off, and 
then lay myself down to listen what language they were 
speaking. At first the whole buzz seemed one unmeaning 
jargon, more like the tongue of an Indian tribe than 
anything else; but as I listened I could detect words of 
French, Spanish, and German. Eager to make out some 
clue to what class they might belong, I leaned forward on 
a bough and listened attentively. A stray word — a chance 
phrase, could I but catch so much, would be enough ; and 
I bent my ear with the most watchful intensity. The spot 
I occupied was the crest of the little ridge, or ' prairie roll,' 
and gave me a perfect view over the group, while the 
black smoke rolling upwards effectually concealed me 
from them. 

As I listened, I heard a deep husky voice say something 
in English. It was only an oath, but it smacked of my 
country, and set my heart a-throbbing powerfully. I lay 
out upon the branch to catch what might follow, when 



CON CREGAN 373 

smash went the frail timber, and, with a cry of terror, 
down I rolled behind them. In a second every one was 
on his legs, while a cry of ' The jaguars ! the jaguars ! ' 
resounded on all sides. The sudden shock over, their 
discipline seemed perfect ; for the whole party had at 
once betaken themselves to their arms, and stood in a 
hollow square prepared to receive any attack. Meanwhile, 
the smoke and the falling rubbish effectually shut me out 
from view. As these cleared away they caught sight of 
me, and truly never was a formidable file of musketry 
directed upon a more pitiable object. Such seemed their 
own conviction, for, after a second or two passed in steady 
contemplation of me, the whole group burst out into a 
roar of savage laughter. ' What is 't ? ' 'It 's not human ? ' 
being the exclamations which, in more than one strange 
tongue, were uttered. 

Unable to speak, in part from terror, in part from the 
shock, I sat up on my knees, and, gesticulating with 
my hands, implored their mercy and bespoke my own 
defencelessness. I conclude that I made a very sorry 
exhibition, for again the laughter burst forth in louder 
tones than before, when one, taking a brand of the burn- 
ing firewood, came nearer to examine me. He threw 
down his torch, and, springing backward with horror, 
screamed out, ' A Upero ! a l&pero ! ' In a moment every 
musket was again raised to the shoulder and directed 
towards me. 

1 1 'm not a Upero — never was ! ' cried I, in Spanish. ' I 'm 
a poor Englishman, who has made his escape from the 
Lazaretto.' I could not utter more, but fell powerless to 
the earth. 

' I know him ; we were messmates,' cried a gruff voice. 
' Halt ! avast there ! don't fire ! I say, my lad, crawl over 
to leeward of the fire. There, that will do. Dash a bucket 
of water over him, Perez.' 

Perez obeyed with a vengeance, for I was soaked to the 
skin, and at the same time exposed to the scorching glare 



374 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

of the great fire, where I steamed away like a swamp at 
sundown. 

' An't you Cregan, I say ? ' cried the same English voice 
which spoke before: 'an't you little Con, as we used to 
call you ? ' 

' Yes,' said I, overjoyed by the recognition, without 
knowing by whom it was made, ' I am the little Con you 
speak of.' 

' Ah ! I remembered your voice the moment I heard it,' 
said he. ' Don't you remember me ? ' 

' Caramba I ' broke in a savage-looking Spaniard, ' we 're 
not going to catch a leprosy for the sake of your reminis- 
cences. Tell the fellow to move off, or I'll send a bullet 
through him.' 

< And I '11 follow you.' 

'And I — and I,' cried two or three more, who, suiting 
the action to the speech, threw back the pan of the flint- 
muskets to examine the priming. 

'And shall I tell you what I'll do?' said the English- 
man. 'I'll lay the first fellow's skull open with this 
hanger that fires a shot at him.' 

' Will you so ? ' said a thin, athletic fellow, springing to 
his legs, and drawing a long narrow-bladed knife from his 
girdle. 

' A truce there, Rivas,' said another ; ' would you quarrel 
with the captain for a miserable lepero ? ' 

' He 's not a captain of my making,' said Rivas sulkily. 

' I don't care of whose making,' said the Englishman, in 
his broken Spanish ; ' I 'm the leader of this expedition — if 
any one deny it, let him stand out and say so. If half a 
dozen of you deny it, come out one by one — I ask nothing 
better than to show you who 's the best man here.' 

A low muttering followed this speech, but whether 
it were of admiration or anger, I could not determine. 
Meanwhile my own resolve was formed, as, gathering my 
limbs together, I rolled upon one knee and said — 

'Hear me for one instant, sehhors. It would be un- 



CON CREGAN 375 

worthy of you to quarrel about an object so poor and 
worthless as I am. Although not a lepero, I have made 
my escape from the Lazaretto, and travelled hither on 
foot, with little clothing and less food — an hour or two 
more will finish what fatigue and starving have all but 
accomplished. If you will be kind enough to throw me a 
morsel of bread, and give me time to move away, I '11 try 
and do it ; or, if you prefer doing the humane thing, you '11 
come a few paces nearer and send a volley into me.' 

' I vote for the last,' shouted one ; but, strange to say, 
none seconded his motion. A change had come over them, 
possibly by the very recklessness of my own proposal. At 
last one called out, ' Creep away some fifty yards or so, and 
burn those rags of yours — we'll give you something to 
wear instead of them.' 

' Ay — just so,' said another ; ' the poor devil doesn't 
deserve death for what he 's done.' 

' That 's spoken like honest fellows and good comrades,' 
said the Englishman. ' And now, my hearty, move down 
to leeward there, and put on your new toggery, and we '11 
see if a hot supper won't put some life in you.' 

I could scarcely credit my own alacrity, as this prospect 
of better days inspired me with fresh vigour ; I recovered 
my feet at once, and in something -which I intended should 
resemble a trot, set out in the direction indicated, and 
where already a small bundle of clothes had been placed 
for my acceptance. 

A piece of lighted charcoal and some firewood also 
apprised me of the office required at my hands, and which 
I performed with a most hearty good- will ; and as I threw 
the odious rags into the flames, I felt that I was saying 
adieu to the last tie that bound me to the horrible Lazar- 
etto of Bexar. 

' Let him join us now,' said the Englishman ; ' though 
I think if the poor fellow has walked from Bexar, you 
might have been satisfied he couldn't carry the leprosy 
with him.' 



376 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

'I've known it go with a piece of gun- wad ding from 
Bexar to the Rio del Norte,' said one. 

' I saw a fellow who caught it from the rind of a water- 
melon a Upero had thrown away.' 

'There was a comrade of ours at Puerta Naval took 
it from sitting on the bench beside a well on the road 
where a lepero had been resting the day before,' cried 
a third. 

' Let him sit yonder, then,' said the Englishman. 
' You 're more af eard of that disease than the bite of a 
cayman; though you needn't be squeamish most of you, 
if it 's your beauty you were thinking of.' 

And thus, amid many a tale of the insidious character 
of this fell disorder, and many a rude jest on the score 
of precaution against it, I was ordered to seat myself 
at about a dozen or twenty paces distant, and receive my 
food as it was thrown towards me by the others — too 
happy at this humble privilege to think of anything but 
the good fortune of such a meeting. 

' Don't you remember me yet ? ' cried the Englishman, 
standing where the full glare of the fire lit up his marked 
features. 

' Yes,' said I, ' you 're Halkett.' 

' To be sure I am, lad. I 'm glad you don't forget me.' 

' How should I ? This is not the first time you saved 
my life.' 

' I scarcely thought I had succeeded so well,' said he, 
' when we parted last — but you must tell me all about that 
to-morrow, when you are rested and refreshed. The crew 
here is not very unlike what you may remember aboard 
the yacht — don't cross them, and you '11 do well with them.' 

' What are they ? ' said I eagerly. 

' Gambusinos,' said he, in a low voice. 

' Bandits ? ' whispered I, misconceiving the word. 

'Not quite,' rejoined he, laughing; 'though, I've no 
doubt, ready to raise a dollar that way if any one could be 
found in these wild parts a little richer then themselves'; 



CON CREGAN 377 

with this, he commended me to a sound sleep, and the 
words were scarcely spoken ere I obeyed the summons. 

Before day broke I was aroused by the noise of 
approaching departure ; the band were strapping on knap- 
sacks, slinging muskets, and making other preparations 
for the march — Halkett, as their captain, carrying nothing 
beyond his weapons, and in his air and manner assuming 
all the importance of command. 

The Upero, as I was called, was ordered to follow the 
column at about a hundred paces to the rear ; but as I was 
spared all burden in compassion to my weak state, I 
readily compounded for this invidious position by the 
benefits it conferred. A rude meal of rye bread and cold 
venison, with some coffee, made our breakfast, and away 
we started, our path lying through the vast prairie I have 
already spoken of. 

As during my state of quarantine, which lasted seven 
entire days, we continued to march along over a dreary 
tract of monotonous desolation — nothing varying the dull 
uniformity of each day's journey, save the chance sight of 
a distant herd of buffaloes, the faint traces of an Indian 
war-party, or the blackened embers of a bivouac — I will 
not weary my readers by dwelling on my own reflections 
as I plodded on: enough when I say, they were oftener 
sad than otherwise. The uncertainty regarding the object 
of my fellow-travellers harassed my mind by a thousand 
odd conjectures. It was clear they were not merchants, 
neither could they be hunters, still less a war-party — 
one of those marauding bands, which on the Texan 
frontier of Mexico levy blackmail upon the villagers, 
on the plea of a pretended protection against the 
Indians. Although well armed, neither their weapons, 
their discipline, nor, still less, their numbers, argued in 
favour of this suspicion. What they could possibly be, 
then, was an insurmountable puzzle to me. I knew they 
were called Gambusinos — nothing more. Supposing that 
some of my readers may not be wiser than I then was, let 



378 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

me take this opportunity, while traversing the prairie, to 
say in a few words what they were. 

The Gambusinos are the gold-seekers of the New 
World — a class who, in number and importance, divide 
society with the Vaqueros, the cattle-dealers, into two 
almost equal sections. Too poor to become possessors of 
mines, without capital for enterprise on a larger scale, 
they form bands of wandering discoverers, traversing the 
least-known districts of the Sonora, and spending years of 
life in the wildest recesses of the Rocky Mountains. Asso- 
ciating together, generally from circumstances purely 
accidental, they form little communities, subject to dis- 
tinct laws; and however turbulent and rebellious under 
ordinary control, beneath the sway of the self-chosen 
leaders they are reputed to be submissive and obedient. 

Their skill is, as may be judged, rude as their habits. 
They rarely carry their researches to any depth beneath 
the surface; some general rules are all their guidance, 
and these are easily acquired. They are all familiar with 
the fact that the streams which descend from the Rocky 
Mountains, either towards the Atlantic or Pacific, carry in 
their autumnal floods vast masses of earth, which form 
deposits in the plains ; that these deposits are often 
charged with precious ores, and sometimes contain great 
pieces of pure gold. They know, besides, that the quartz 
rock is the usual bed where the precious metals are found ; 
and that these rocks form spurs from the large mountains, 
easily known, because they are never clothed by vegetation, 
and called in their phraseology ' Crestones.' 

A sharp short stroke of the barreta, the iron-shod 
staff of the Gambusino, soon shivers the rock where 
treasure is suspected ; and the fragments being submitted 
to the action of a strong fire, the existence of gold is at 
once tested. Often the mere stroke of the barreta will 
display the shining lustre of the metal without more to 
do. Such is, for the most part, the extent of their skill. 

There are, of course, gradations even here ; and some 



CON CREGAN 379 

will distinguish themselves above their fellows in the 
detection of profitable sources and rich ' crestones,' while 
others rarely rise above the rank of mere ' washers ' — men 
employed to sift the sands and deposits of the rivers in 
which the chief product is gold-dust. 

Such, then, is the life of a Gambusino. In this pursuit 
he traverses the vast continent of South America from 
east to west, crossing torrents, scaling cliffs, descending 
precipices, braving hunger, thirst, heat, and snow, en- 
countering hostile Indians, and the not less terrible bands 
of rival adventurers, contesting for existence with the 
wild animals of the desert, and generally at last paying 
with his life the price of his daring intrepidity! Few, 
indeed, are ever seen as old men among their native 
villages ; nearly all have found their last rest beneath the 
scorching sand of the prairie. 

Upon every other subject than that of treasure-seeking 
their minds were a perfect blank. For them, the varied 
resources of a land abounding in the products of every 
clime had no attraction. On the contrary, the soil which 
grew the maize, indigo, cotton, the sugar-cane, coffee, the 
olive, and the vine, seemed sterile and barren, since in such 
regions no gold was ever found. The wondrous fertility 
of that series of terraces which, on the Andes, unite the 
fruits of the torrid zone with the lichens of the icy north, 
had no value in the estimation of men who acknowledged 
but one wealth, and recognised but one idol. Their hearts 
turned from the glorious vegetation of this rich garden to 
the dry courses of the torrents that fissure the Cordilleras, 
or the stony gorges that intersect the Rocky Mountains. 

The life of wild and varied adventure, too, that they 
led, was associated with these deserted and trackless 
wastes. To them, civilisation presented an aspect of 
slavish subjection and dull uniformity, while in the very 
vicissitudes of their successes there was the excitement of 
gambling — rich to-day, they vowed a lamp of solid gold 
to the Virgin — to-morrow, in beggary, they braved the 



380 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

terrors of sacrilege to steal from the very altar they had 
themselves decorated. What strange and wondrous nar- 
ratives did they recount as we wandered over that swelling 



prairie 



Many avowed that their own misdeeds had first driven 
them to the life of the deserts ; and one who had lived for 
years a prisoner among the Choctaws, confessed that his 
heart still lingered with the time when he had sat as a 
chief beside the war-fire, and planned stratagems against 
the tribe of the rival Pawnees. To men of hardy and 
energetic temperament, recklessness has an immense 
fascination. Life is so often in peril, they cease to care 
much for whatever endangers it ; and thus, through all 
their stories, the one feeling ever predominated — a care- 
less indifference to every risk, coupled with a most 
resolute conduct in time of danger. 

I soon managed to make myself a favourite with this 
motley assemblage; my natural aptitude to pick up 
language, aided by what I already knew of French and 
German, assisted me to a knowledge of Spanish and 
Portuguese ; while from a half-breed I acquired a suffi- 
ciency of the Indian dialect in use throughout the Lower 
Prairies. I was fleet of foot, besides being a good shot 
with the rifle — qualities of more request among my com- 
panions than many gifts of a more brilliant order ; and 
lastly, my skill in cookery, which I derived from my 
education on board the Firefly, won me high esteem and 
much honour. My life was, therefore, far from unpleasant. 
The monotony of the tract over which we marched was 
more than compensated for by the marvellous tales that 
beguiled the way. One only drawback existed on my 
happiness, and yet that was sufficient to embitter many a 
lonely hour of the night, and cast a shade over many a 
joyous hour of the day. I am almost ashamed to confess 
what that source of sorrow was, the more as, perhaps, my 
kind reader will already fancy he has anticipated my grief, 
and say, 'It was the remembrance of Donna Maria, the 



CON CREGAN 381 

memory of her I was never to see more.' Alas, no ! It 
was a feeling far more selfish than this afflicted me. The 
plain fact is, I was called ' The Lepero.' By no other name 
would my companions know or acknowledge me. It was 
thus they first addressed me, and so they would not take 
the trouble to change my appellation. Not that, indeed, I 
dared to insinuate a wish upon the subject: such a hint 
would have been too bold a stroke to hazard in a company 
where one was called ' Brise-ses-f ers ' — another, ' Colpo-di- 
Sangue ' — a third, ' Teuf el's Blut,' and so on. 

It was to no purpose that I appeared in all the vigour 
of health and strength. I might outrun the wildest bull 
of the buffalo herd ; I might spring upon the half -trained 
mustang, and outstrip the antelope in her flight ; I 
might climb the wall-like surface of a cliff, and rob the 
eagle of her young; but when I came back, the cry of 
welcome that met me was, 'Bravo, Lepero!' And thus 
did I bear about me the horrid badge of that dreary time 
when I dwelt within the Lazaretto of Bexar. 

The very fact that the name was not used in terms of 
scoff or reproach increased the measure of its injury. It 
called for no reply on my part ; it summoned no energy of 
resistance ; it was, as it were, a simple recognition of 
certain qualities that distinguished me and made up my 
identity, and at last, to such an extent did it work upon 
my imagination, that I yielded myself up to the delusion 
that I was all that they styled me — an outcast and a leper ! 
When this conviction settled down on my mind, I ceased 
to fret as before, but a gloomy depression gained posses- 
sion of me, uncheered save by the one hope, that my life 
should not be entirely spent among my present associates, 
and that I should yet be known as something else than 
The Lepero. 

The prairie over which we travelled never varied in 
aspect, save with the changing hours of the day. The 
same dreary swell — the same yellowish grass — the same 
scathed and scorched cedars — the same hazy outlines of 



382 THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 

distant mountains that we saw yesterday rose before us 
again to-day, as we knew they would on the morrow — till 
at last our minds took the reflection of the scene, and we 
journeyed along, weary, silent, and footsore. It was 
curious enough to mark how this depression exhibited 
itself upon different nationalities. The Saxon became 
silent and thoughtful, with only a slight dash of more 
than ordinary care upon his features — the Italian grew 
peevish and irritable, the Spaniard was careless and 
neglectful, while the Frenchman became downright vicious 
in the wayward excesses of his spiteful humour. Upon 
the half-breeds, two of whom were our guides, no change 
was ever perceptible. Too long accustomed to the life of 
the prairie to feel its influence as peculiar, they plodded 
on, the whole faculties bent upon one fact, the discovery 
of the Chihuahua trail, from which our new track was to 
diverge in a direction nearly due west. 

Our march, no longer enlivened by merry stories or 
exciting narratives, had become wearisome in the extreme. 
The heavy fogs of the night and the great mist which 
arose at sunset prevented all possibility of tracing the 
path, which often required the greatest skill to detect, so 
that we were obliged to travel during the sultriest hours 
of the day, -without a particle of shade, our feet scorched 
by the hot sands, and our heads constantly exposed to the 
risk of sunstroke. Water, too, became each day more 
difficult to obtain ; the signs by which our guides dis- 
covered its vicinity seemed, to me at least, little short of 
miraculous; and yet, if by any chance they made a mis- 
take, the anger of the party rose so near to mutiny that 
nothing short of Halkett's own authority could restore 
order. Save in these altercations, without which rarely a 
day passed over, little was spoken ; each trudged along 
either lost in vacuity or buried in his own thoughts. 




S for myself, my dreamy temperament 
aided me greatly. I could build 
castles for ever ; and certainly there 
was no lack of ground here for the foundation. Sometimes 
I fancied myself suddenly become the possessor of immense 
riches, with which I should found a new colony in the 
very remotest regions of the west. I pictured to myself 
the village of my workmen, surrounded with its patches 
of cultivation in the midst of universal barrenness — the 
smiling aspect of civilised life in the very centre of 
barbarism — the smelting furnaces, the mills, the great 
refining factories, of which I had heard so much, all rose 
to my imagination, and my own princely abode looking 
down upon these evidences of my wealth. 

Then, I fancied the influences of education diffusing 
themselves among the young, who grew up with tastes 
and habits so different from those of their fathers. How 
pursuits of refinement by degrees mingled themselves with 
daily requirements, till at last the silent forests would 



384 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

echo with the exciting strains of music, or the murmuring 
rivulet at nightfall would be accompanied by the recited 
verses of poetry. 

The primitive simplicity of such a life as I then pictured 
was a perfect fascination ; and when wearied with think- 
ing of it by day, as I dropped asleep at night the thoughts 
would haunt my dreams unceasingly. 

This castle-building temperament — which is, after all, 
nothing but hope engaged practically — may, when pushed 
too far, make a man dreamy, speculative, and visionary ; 
but if restrained within any reasonable limits, cannot fail 
to support the courage in many an hour of trial, and nerve 
the heart against many a sore affliction. I know how it 
kept me up when others of very different thews and 
sinews were falling around me. Independently of this 
advantage, another and a greater one accompanied it. 
These self-created visions, however they may represent 
a man in a situation of greatness or power, always do so 
to exhibit him dispensing — what he imagines at least to 
be — the virtues of such a station! No one, I trust, ever 
fancied himself a monarch for the sake of all the cruelties 
he might inflict, and all the tyrannies he might practise ; 
so that, in reality, this 'sparring against Fortune with 
the gloves on' is admirable practice — if it be nothing 
else. 

It was on the seventeenth day of our wanderings 
that the guide announced that we had struck into the 
Chihuahua ' trail,' and although to our eyes nothing 
unusual or strange presented itself, Hermose exhibited 
signs of unmistakable pride and self-esteem. As I looked 
around me on the unvarying aspect of earth and sky, I 
could not help remembering my disappointment on a 
former occasion, when I heard of the ' Banks of Newfound- 
land,' and fancied that the Chihuahua trail might have 
some such unseen existence as the redoubtable ' Banks ' 
aforesaid, which, however familiar to cod-fish, are seldom 
visited by Christians. 



CON CREGAN 385 

'The evening star will rise straight above our heads 
to-night,' said Hermose — and he was correct ; our path lay- 
exactly in the very line with that bright orb. The con- 
fidence inspired by this prediction increased, as we found 
that an occasional prickly pear-tree now presented itself, 
with, here and there, a dwarf box or an acacia. As night 
closed in, we found ourselves on the skirt of what seemed 
a dense wood, bordered by the course of a dried-up torrent. 
A great wide 'streak' of rocks and stones attested the 
force and extent of that river when filled by the mountain 
streams, but which now trickled along among the pebbles 
with scarcely strength enough to force its way. Hermose 
proceeded for some distance down into the bed of the 
torrent, and returned with a handful of sand and clay, 
which he presented to Halkett, saying, 'The rains have 
not been heavy enough ; this is last year's earth.' 

Few as were the words, they conveyed to me an 
immense impression of his skill, who, in a few grains of 
sand taken at random, could distinguish the deposits of 
one year from those of another. 

' How does it look, Halkett ? ' cried one. 

' Is it heavy ? ' asked another. 

' It is worthless,' said Halkett, throwing the earth from 
him ; ' but we are on the right track, lads, for all that : 
there 's always gold where the green snake frequents.' 

It was a mystery at the time to me how Halkett knew 
of the serpent's vicinity, for although I looked eagerly 
around me, I saw no trace of one. 

' I vow he 's a-sarchin' for the coppernose,' said a 
Yankee, as he laughed heartily at my ignorance. 

' Do you see that bird, there, upon the bough of the 
cedar-tree ? ' said Halkett ; ' that 's the " choyero " ; and 
wherever he's found the coppernose is never far off.' 
The mystery was soon explained in this wise — the 
choyero is in the habit of enveloping himself in the 
leaves of a certain prickly cactus, called ' choya,' with 
which armour he attacks the largest of these green 
13 2 b 



386 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

serpents, and always successfully — the strong thorny 
spines of the plant invariably inflicting death-wounds 
upon the snake. Some asserted that the bird only 
attacked the snake during his season of torpor, but others 
stoutly averred that the choyero was a match for any 
coppernose in his perfect vigour. 

The approach of the long -sought -for 'Placer' was 
celebrated by an extra allowance of rum ; and the party 
conversed till a late hour of the night, with a degree of 
animation they had not exhibited for a long time 
previous; stories of the 'washings' resumed their sway 
— strange wild narratives — the chief interest in which, 
however striking at the time, lay in the manner of those 
who related them, and were themselves the actors. They 
nearly all turned upon some incident of gambling, and 
were strong illustrations of how completely the love of 
gain can co-exist with a temperament utterly wasteful 
and reckless, while both can render a man totally in- 
different to every feeling of friendship. There was 
mention, by chance, of a certain Narvasque, who had 
been the comrade of many of the party. 

' He is dead,' cried one. 

* Caramba f cried another, ' that is scarcely true ; they 
told me he was at Austin fair this fall.' 

' You may rely on it he 's dead,' said the first, ' for I 
know it : he died on the Sacramento, and in this wise. We 
had had a two months' run of luck at the Crestones of 
Bacuachez — such fortune as I only hope we may soon see 
again : none of your filthy wash and sieve work, nor any 
splintering of a steel barreta on a flint rock, but light 
digging along the stream and turning up such masses of 
the real shining metal as would make your heart leap to 
look at — lumps of thirty — thirty-five — ay, forty pounds.' 

' There — there, Harispe ! ' said an old fellow, with a long 
pipe of sugar-cane, ' if we are to swallow what 's a-comin', 
don't choke us just now.' 

'What does an old trapper know of the diggin's,' said 



CON CREGAN 387 

Harispe contemptuously; ''tis a-bee huntin' and a-birds' 
nestin' you ought to be. Smash my ribs ! if he ever saw 
goold, except on the breast of a goldfinch.' Having 
silenced his adversary, he resumed — 

1 We were all rich by the time we reached Aranchez ; 
but what use is metal ! one can't eat it, nor drink it, nor 
even sleep on 't, and the fellows up there had got as much 
as we had ourselves. Everything cost twenty— no, but two 
hundred and twenty times its value ! I used to cut a goold 
button off my coat every morning for a day's grub, so that 
we had to make ourselves a kind of log-hut outside the 
village, and try to vittal ourselves as best we could. 
There warn't much savin' in that plan neither, for we 
drank brandy all day long, and it cost half an ounce of 
goold every bottle of it ! Then we stayed up all night and 
played brag, and it was that finished Narvasque. He was 
a-betting with Shem Avery, and Shem, who felt he was in 
for a run of luck, layed it on a bit heavy like ; and the end 
o' it was, he won all Narvasque's two months' diggin's, all 
to a twenty-eight " ouncer " that he wouldn't bet for any- 
body — no, nor let any one see where he hid it. Shem had 
his heart on that lump, and said, "I'll go fifty ounces 
against your lump, Narvasque " ; and the other didn't take 
it at first, but up he gets and leaves the hut. "Honour 
bright," said he, " no man follows me." They all gave their 
words, and he went out a short distance into the wood, 
where he had a sheep's heart hanging near a rock, in the 
centre of which he had concealed his treasure. He wasn't 
three yards from the spot when a great spotted snake 
darts through the long grass, and, making a spring at the 
piece of meat, bolts it and away ! Narvasque followed 
into the deep jungle, unarmed as he was ; there a deadly 
combat must have ensued, for when his cries aroused us, 
as we sat within the hut, we found him bitten on every 
part of the body, and so near death, that he had only time 
to tell how it happened, when he expired.' 

' And the snake ? ' cried several in a breath. 



388 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

' He got clear away ; we gave chase for four days after 
him in vain ; but a fellow with as much spare cash about 
him must have come to bad ere now.' 

'The Injuns has ripped him open afore this, depend 
on 't,' said another. ' There 's scarce a snake of any size 
hasn't an emerald or splice of gold in him.' 

' There 's more gold lies hidden by fellows that have 
never lived, or come back to claim it, than ye know of, 
said the old trapper; 'and that's the kind of placer I'd 
like to chance upon, all ready washed and smelted.' 

' They talk of martyrs ! ' said a tall, sallow Spaniard, 
who had been educated for a priest ; ' let me tell you that 
those Indians, ay, even the negroes, have endured as much 
torture for their gold as ever did zealot for his faith. 
There was a fellow in my father's time, up at Guajuaqualla, 
who, it was said, had concealed immense treasures, not 
only of gold, but gems, emeralds, diamonds, and rubies ; 
well, he not only refused all offers from the Gobernador 
of the mines to share the booty, but he suffered his toes 
to be taken off by the smelting nippers rather than make 
a confession. Then they tried him with what the miners 
call a " nest-egg," that is, a piece of gold heated almost red 
and inserted into the spine of the back ; but it was all to 
no use, he never spoke a word.' 

' I heard of him ; that was a nigger called Crick,' cried 
another. 

I heard no more. The sound of that name, which 
brought up the memory of my night at Anticosti and all 
its terrors, filled my heart, besides, with a strange swelling 
of hope, vague and ill-defined, it is true, but which some- 
how opened a vision of future wealth and greatness before 
me. The name, coupled with the place, Guajuaqualla, left 
no doubt upon my mind that they were talking of no 
other than the Black Boatswain himself. If I burned to 
ask a hundred questions about him, a prudent forbearance 
held me back. I knew that of all men living none are so 
much given to suspicion and mistrust as the Gambusinos. 



CON CREGAN 389 

The frauds and deceits eternally in practice among them, 
the constant concealments of treasure, the affected 
desertion of rich placers in order to return to them 
later and alone — these and many like artifices suggest a 
universal want of confidence, which is ever at work to 
trace motives or attribute intentions for every chance 
word or accidental expression. I retained my curiosity, 
therefore ; but from that hour forward the negro and his 
hidden gold were ever before me. It mattered not where 
I was, in what companionship, or how engaged, one 
figure occupied the foreground of every picture. If my 
waking thoughts represented him exactly as I saw him at 
Anticosti, my sleeping fancies filled up a whole history of 
his life. I pictured him a slave in the ' Barracoons ' of his 
native land, heavily ironed and chained. I saw him on 
board the slaver, with bent-down head and crippled limbs, 
crouching between the decks. I followed him to the 
slave-market and the sugar plantation. I witnessed his 
sufferings, his sorrows, and his vengeance. I tracked him 
as he fled to the woods, with the deep-mouthed blood- 
hounds behind him; and I stood breathless while they 
struggled in deadly conflict, till pale, bleeding, and 
mangled, the slave laid them dead at his feet, and 
tottered onward to stanch his wounds with the red gum 
of the liana. Then came an indistinct interval ; and when 
I saw him next it was as a gold- washer in the dark stream 
of the Rio Nero, his distorted limbs and mangled flesh 
showing through what sufferings he had passed. 

Broken, incoherent incidents of crime and misery, of 
tortured agonies and hellish vengeance, would cross my 
sleeping imagination, amidst which one picture ever 
recurred — it was of the negro as I saw him at Anticosti, 
crouching beastlike on the earth, and while he patted 
the ground with his hand, throwing a stealthy terrified 
glance on every side to see that he was not observed. 
That he fancied himself in the act of concealing the gold 
for which he had bartered his very blood, the gesture 



390 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

indicated plainly enough; and in the same attitude my 
fancy would depict him so powerfully, so truthfully, too, 
that when I awoke I had but to close my eyes again and 
the vision would come back with every colour and adjunct 
of reality. 

My preoccupation of mind could not have escaped 
the shrewd observation of my companions, had not the 
unexpected discovery of gold in the sands of the river 
effectually turned every thought into another and more 
interesting channel. At first it was mere dust was 
detected, but, later on, small misshapen pieces of dusky 
yellow were picked up, which showed the gold in its most 
valuable form, in combination with quartz rock. 

Up to the moment of that discovery all was lassitude 
and indifference. A few only gave themselves the trouble 
to wet their feet, the greater number sitting lazily down 
upon the river's bank, and gazing on the washers with a 
contemptuous negligence. The failures they experienced, 
even their humble successes, were met with sneers and 
laughter, till at last Hermose held up aloft a little spicula 
of gold about the thickness of a pencil. No sooner had 
the brilliant lustre caught their eyes, than, like hounds at 
the sight of the stag, they sprang to their feet and dashed 
into the stream. 

What a sudden change came over the scene ! Instead 
of the silence of that dark river, through whose dull 
current three or four figures waded noiselessly, while in 
lazy indolence their companions lay smoking or sleeping 
near, now, in an instant, the whole picture became 
animated. With plashing water and wild shouts of 
various import the deep glen resounded, as upwards of 
thirty men descended into the river ; and while some 
examined the bed of the stream with the barretas, others 
dived beneath the water to explore it with their hands, 
and bring up mingled masses of earth and dust, over which 
they bent with earnest gaze for many minutes together. 

Then what cries of joy or disappointment broke forth 



CON CREGAN 391 

at every instant ! There seemed at once to come over that 
hardened, time-worn group of men, all the changing fickle- 
ness of childhood — the wayward vacillations of hope and 
despair; bright visions of sudden wealth, with gloomy 
thoughts of disappointment. Suddenly, one brought up 
from the bed of the stream something which he showed 
to his neighbour, then to another, and another, till a knot 
had gathered close around him, among which I found 
myself. ' What is it ? ' said I, disappointed at not seeing 
some great mass of yellow gold. 

' Don't you see ? It is the fossil bone of the antelope,' 
said Hermose ; ' and when the floods have penetrated deep 
enough to unbury that, there's little doubt but we shall 
find gold enough.' 

' Who says enough ? ' cried a Mexican, as, emerging half- 
suffocated from the water, he held aloft a pure piece of 
metal, nearly the size of a small apple ; ' of such fruit as 
this one never can eat to indigestion ! ' 

Halkett's whistle was soon heard, summoning the whole 
party to a council on the bank; nor was the call long 
unanswered. In an instant the tanned and swarthy 
figures were seen emerging, all dripping as they were, 
from the stream, ascending the banks, and then throw- 
ing themselves in attitudes of careless ease around the 
leader. 

A short discussion ensued as to the locality upon which 
we had chanced, some averring that it was an unexplored 
branch of the Brazo, others that it was one of those way- 
ward courses into which mountain streams are directed 
in seasons of unusual rain. The controversy was a warm, 
and might soon have become an angry one, had not Halkett 
put an end to all altercation by saying, ' It matters little 
how the place be called, or what its latitude; you know 
the Mexican adage, "It's always a native land where 
there's gold." That there is some here, I have no doubt; 
that there is as much as will repay us for the halt, is 
another question. My advice is, that we turn the river 



392 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

into another course, leave the present channel dry and 
open, and then explore it thoroughly.' 

' Well spoken, and true ! ' said an old white-headed 
Gambusino ; ' that is the plan in the far west, and they are 
the only fellows who go right about their work.' 

The proposal was canvassed ably on all sides, and 
adopted with scarcely anything like opposition ; and then 
parties were ' told off ' to carry into execution different 
portions of the labour. The section into which I fell was 
that of the scouts or explorers, who were to track the 
course of the stream upwards, and search for a suitable 
spot at which to commence operations. Hermose took 
the command of this party, and named the Lepero as his 
lieutenant. 

The sierra through which our path lay was singularly 
wild and picturesque. The rocks, thrown about in every 
fantastic shape, were actually covered with the tendrils of 
the liana, whose great blue flowers hung in luxuriant 
clusters from every cliff and crag. Wild fig and almond 
trees loaded with fruit, red guavas and limes, met us as 
we advanced, till at length we found ourselves in the very 
centre of a tract rich in every production of our gardens, 
and all growing in spontaneous freedom and wildness. 
The yellow-flowering cactus, and the golden lobelia, that 
would have been the choicest treasures of a conservatory 
in other lands, we here broke branches off to fan away the 
mosquitoes and the gallinippers. The farther we went, 
the more fruitful and luxuriant did the tract seem. 
Oranges, peaches, and grapes, in all the profusion of their 
wildest abundance, surrounded us, and even littered the 
very way beneath our feet. To feel the full enchantment 
of such a scene, one should have been a prairie traveller 
for weeks, long-wearied and heart-sore with the dull 
monotony of a tiresome journey, with fevered tongue and 
scorching feet, with eyeballs red from the glaring sun, 
and temples throbbing from the unshaded lustre. Then, 
indeed, the change was like one of those wondrous trans- 



CON CREGAN 393 

formations of a fairy-tale, rather than mere actual life. 
In the transports of our delight we threw ourselves down 
among the flowering shrubs, and covered ourselves with 
blossoms and buds ; we bound the grape clusters on our 
foreheads like bacchanals, and tied great branches of the 
orange-tree round us as scarfs. In all the wantonness of 
children, we tore the fruit in handf uls and threw it around 
us. The wasteful prodigality of nature seemed to provoke 
excess on our part, prompting us to a hundred follies and 
extravagances. As if to fill up the measure of our present 
joy by imparting the brightness of future hope, Hermose 
told us that such little spots of luxuriant verdure were very 
often found in the regions richest with gold, and that we 
might be almost certain of discovering a valuable placer 
in our immediate vicinity. There was another, and that 
no inconsiderable, advantage attending these oases of 
fertility. The Indians never dared to intrude upon these 
precincts, their superstition being that the ' Treasure God,' 
or the ' Genius of the Mine,' always had his home in these 
places, and executed summary vengeance upon all who 
dared to invade them. This piece of red-man faith, how- 
ever jocularly recorded, did not meet that full contempt 
from my comrades I could have expected. On the contrary, 
many cited instances of disasters and calamities which 
seemed like curious corroborations of the creed. Indeed, 
I soon saw how naturally superstitious credences become 
matter of faith to him who lives" the wild life of the 
prairies. 

' Then you think we shall have to pay the price of all 
this enjoyment, Hermose ? ' said I, as I lay luxuriously 
beneath a spreading banana. 

' Quien sabe ? ' exclaimed he, in his Mexican dialect, and 
with a shrug of the shoulders that implied doubt. 

Although each event is well marked in my memory, 
and the incidents of each day indelibly fixed upon my 
mind, it is needless that I should dwell upon passages 
which, however at the time full of adventure and excite- 



394 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

ment, gave no particular direction to the course of my 
humble destiny. We succeeded in finding a spot by which 
the bed of the river might be changed, and after some 
days of hard labour we accomplished the task. 

The course of the stream thus left dry for a consider- 
able distance became the scene of our more active exertions. 
The first week or two little was discovered, save gold-dust, 
or an occasional spicula of the metal, heavily alloyed 
with copper; but as we followed up the course, towards 
the mountain, a vein of richest ore was found, lying near 
the surface too, and presenting masses of pure gold, many 
of them exceeding twenty ounces in weight. 

There could be no doubt that we had chanced upon a 
most valuable placer ; and now orders were given to erect 
huts, and such rude furnaces for testing as our skill stood 
in need of. A strict scale of profits was also established, 
and a solemn oath exacted from each to be true and 
faithful to his comrades in all things. Our little colony 
demanded various kinds of service; for, while the gold- 
seeking was our grand object, it was necessary that a corps 
of trappers and hunters should be formed, who should 
follow the buffalo, the red deer, and the wild hog over the 
prairies. 

Many declined serving on this expedition, doubtless 
suspecting that the share of treasure which might be 
allotted to the absent man would undergo a heavy pound- 
age. Hermose, however, whose adventurous spirit inclined 
more willingly to the excitement of the chase than the 
monotonous labour of a washer, volunteered to go, and I 
offered myself to be his companion. Some half-dozen of 
the youngest agreed to follow us, and we were at once 
named — The Hunters to the Expedition. 

The rivalry between the two careers, good-natured as it 
was, served to amuse and interest us ; and while our blank 
days were certain to obtain for us a share of scoffs and 
jibes, their unsuccessful ones did not escape their share of 
sarcasm. If one party affected to bewail the necessity of 



CON CREGAN 395 

storing up treasure for a set of walking gentlemen, who 
passed the day in pleasure-rambles about the country, the 
other took care to express their discontent at returning 
loaded with spoils for a parcel of lazy impostors, that 
lounged away their time on the bank of a river. Mean- 
while both pursuits flourished admirably. Practice had 
made us most expert with the rifle ; and as we were 
fortunate enough to secure some of the mustangs, and 
train them to the saddle, our chasse became both more 
profitable and pleasant. By degrees, too, little evidences 
of superfluity began to display themselves in our equip- 
ment : our saddles, at first made of a mere wooden trestle, 
with a strip of buffalo-hide thrown across it, were now 
ornamented with black bear-skins, or the more valuable 
black fox-skin. Our own costume, if not exactly conform- 
able to Parisian models, was comfortable and easy — a 
brown deer-skin tunic, fastened by a belt around the 
waist; short breeches, reaching to the knee-cap, which 
was left bare, for climbing ; botas vaqueras, very loose 
at top, and serving as holsters for our pistols ; and a cap 
of fox or squirrel, usually designed by the wearer, and 
exhibiting proofs of ingenuity, if not taste. Such was our 
dress, our weapons of rifle, and bowie-knife, and pistols 
giving it a character, which, on the boards of a minor 
theatre, would have been a crowning success. We were 
also all mounted ; some, Hermose and myself in particular, 
admirably. And although I often in my own heart re- 
gretted the powers of strength and endurance of poor 
Charry, my little mustang steed, with his long forelock 
and his bushy moustaches — a strange peculiarity of this 
breed — was a picture of compactness and agility. 

We had also constructed a rude waggon, so rude that I 
can even yet laugh as I think on it, to carry our spoils, 
which were far too cumbrous for a mere horse-load, and 
when left on the prairies attracted such numbers of 
prairie wolves and vultures as to be downright perilous. 
If this same waggon was not exactly a type for Long 



396 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

Acre, it was at least strong and serviceable ; and although 
the wheels were far nearer oval than circular, they did go 
round. The noise they created in so doing might have 
been disagreeable to a nervous invalid, being something 
between the scream of a railway train and the yell of a 
thousand peacocks, but I believe we rather liked it; at 
least I know that when some luckless Sybarite suggested 
the use of a little bear's fat around the axle, he was looked 
on as a kind of barbarian to whom nature denied the least 
ear for music. 

As for the chasse itself, it was glorious sport. Glorious 
in the unbounded freedom to wander whither one listed ! 
— glorious in the sense of mastery we felt, that we alone 
of all the millions of mankind had reached this far-away, 
unvisited tract ! — glorious in its successes, its dangers, and 
its toils ! There was, besides, that endless variety of ad- 
venture prairie-hunting affords. Now, it was the heavy 
buffalo, lumbering lazily along, and tossing his huge head 
in anger, as the rifle-ball pierced his thick hide ! Now, it 
was the proudly antlered stag, careering free over miles 
and miles of waste. At another time the grizzly bear was 
our prey, and our sport lay in the dense jungle, or among 
the dwarf scrub, through which the hissing rattlesnake 
was darting, affrighted at the noise. In more peaceful 
mood the antelope would be the victim; while the wild 
turkey, or the great cock of the wood, would grace with 
his bright wavy feathers the cap of him whose aim was 
true at longest rifle range. 

And these were happy days — the very happiest of my 
whole life ; for if, sometimes, regrets would arise about 
that road of ambition from which I had turned off, to 
wander in the path of mere pleasure, I bethought me that 
no career the luckiest fortune could have opened to me 
would have developed the same manly powers of en- 
durance of heat and cold, and of peril in a hundred shapes. 
In no other pursuit could I have educated myself to the 
like life of toils and dangers, bringing me daily, as it were, 



CON CREGAN 397 

face to face with death, till I could look on him without 
a shudder or a fear. 

I will not say that Donna Maria may not have passed 
across the picture of my mind-drawn regrets ; but if her 
form did indeed flit past, it was to breathe a hope of some 
future meeting, some bright time to come, the recompense 
of all our separation. And I thought with pride how 
much more worthy of her would I be as the prairie-hunter, 
the fearless follower of the bear and buffalo — accustomed 
to the life of the wild woods — than as the mere ad- 
venturer, whose sole stock-in-trade was the subterfuge 
and deceit he could practise on the unwary. 

It was strange enough all this while that I seemed to 
have lost sight of my old guide-star, the great passion of 
my earlier years — the desire to be a Gentleman. It was 
stranger still, but, after-reflection has shown me that it 
was true, I made far greater progress toward that wished- 
for goal when I ceased to make it the object of my 
ambition. 




THE FATE OF A GAMBUSINO 

HE 'life of the prairie,' with all its seem- 
ing monotony, was very far from weari- 
some. The chase, which to some might have presented 
the same unvarying aspect, to those who passionately 
loved sport, abounded in new and exciting incidents. 
If upon one day the object of pursuit was the powerful 
bison bull, with his shaggy mane and short straight 
horns, on another, it was the swift antelope or the prairie 
fox, whose sable skin is the rarest piece of dandyism 
a hunter's pelisse can exhibit ; now and then the wide- 
spread paw of a brown bear would mark the earth, 
and give us days of exciting pursuit; or again, some 
Indian ' trail ' — some red-man ' sign ' — would warn us that 
we were approaching the hunting-grounds of a tribe, and 
that all our circumspection was needed. Besides these, 
there were changes, inappreciable to the uninitiated, but 
thoroughly understood by us, in the landscape itself, 
highly interesting. It is a well-known fact that the 



THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 399 

shepherd becomes conversant with the face of every 
sheep in his flock, tracing differences of expression where 
others would recognise nothing but a blank uniformity; 
so did the prairie, which at first presented one unvarying 
expanse, become at last marked by a hundred peculiarities, 
with which close observation made us intimate. Indeed I 
often wondered how a great stretching plain, without a 
house, a tree, a shrub, or a trickling brook, could supply 
the materials of scenic interest, and the explanation is 
almost as difficult as the fact. One must have lived the 
life of solitude and isolation which these wild wastes 
compel, to feel how every moss-clad stone can have its 
meaning — how the presence of some little insignificant 
lichen indicates the vicinity of water — how the blue fox- 
bell shows where honey is to be found — how the faint 
spiral motion of the pirn grass gives warning that rain is 
nigh at hand. Then with what interest at each sunset is 
the horizon invested, when the eye can pierce space to a 
vast extent, and mark the fog-banks which tower afar off, 
and distinguish the gathering clouds from the dark-backed 
herd of buffaloes, or a group of Indians on a march. 
Every prairie ' roll,' every dip and undulation of that vast 
surface, had its own interest, until at length I learned to 
think that all other prospects must be tame, spiritless, 
and unexciting, in comparison with that glorious expanse, 
where sky and earth were one, and where the clouds alone 
threw shadows upon the vast plain. 

The habit of a hunter's life in such scenes, the constant 
watchfulness against sudden peril, inspire a frame of mind 
in which deep reflectiveness is blended with a readiness 
and promptitude of action, gifts which circumstances far 
more favourable to moral training do not always supply. 
The long day passed in total solitude — since very often the 
party separates to meet at nightfall — necessarily calls for 
thought ; not indeed the dreamy reverie of the visionary, 
forgetful of himself and all the world, but of that active, 
stirring, mental operation which demands effort and will. 



400 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

If fanciful pictures of the future as we would wish to 
make it, intervene, they come without displacing the stern 
realities of the present, any more than the far distances 
of a picture interfere with the figures of the foreground. 

Forgive, most kind reader, the prolix fondness with 
which I linger on this theme. Fortune gave me but scant 
opportunity of cultivation, but my best schooling was 
obtained upon the prairies. It was there I learned the 
virtue of self-reliance, the only real independence. It was 
there I taught myself to endure reverses without dis- 
appointment, and bear hardships without repining. It 
was there I came to know that he who would win an up- 
ward way in life must not build upon some self -imagined 
superiority, but boldly enter the lists with others, and 
make competitorship the test of his capacity. They were 
inferior acquirements, it is true ; but I learned also to bear 
hunger and cold, and want of rest and sleep, which in my 
after-life were not without their value. It would savour 
too much of a ' bull ' for him who writes his own memoirs 
to apologise for egotism, still I do feel compunctions of 
conscience about the length of these personal details — and 
now to my story. 

While we pursued our hunting pastime over the 
prairies, the 'expedition' was successful beyond all ex- 
pectation. No sooner was the bed of the river laid bare, 
than gold was discovered in quantities, and the washers, 
despising the slower process of sifting, betook themselves 
to the pick and the barreta, like their comrades. It was 
a season of rejoicing, and, so far as our humble means per- 
mitted, of festivity ; for though abounding in gold, our 
daily food was buffalo and 'tough doe,' unseasoned by 
bread, or anything that could prove its substitute. If the 
days were passed in successful labour, the evenings were 
prolonged with narratives of the late discoveries, and 
gorgeous imaginings of the future, as each fancied the 
bright vista should be. Some were for a life of unbounded 
excess and dissipation — the amende, as they deemed it, for 



CON CREGAN 401 

all their toil and endurance ; others anticipated a career of 
splendour and display in the Old World. The Frenchman 
raved of Paris and its cafes and restaurants, its theatres 
and its thousand pleasures. A few speculated upon 
setting forth on fresh expeditions with better means of 
success. Halkett alone bethought him of home and of 
an aged mother, in the far-away valley of Llanberis, 
whose remainder of life he longed to render easy and 
independent. 

Nor was it the least courageous act of his daring life 
to avow such a feeling among such associates. How they 
laughed at his humility ! how they scoffed at the filial 
reverence of the Gambusino ! Few of them had known a 
parent's care. Most were outcasts from their birth, and 
started in life with that selfish indifference to all others 
which is so often the passport to success. I saw this, 
and perceived how affection and sympathy are so much 
additional weight upon the back of him ' who enters for 
the plate of Fortune ' ; but yet my esteem for Halkett 
increased from that moment. I fancied that his capacity 
for labour and exertion was greater, from the force of a 
higher and a nobler impulse, than that which animated 
the others ; and I thought I could trace to this source the 
untiring energy for which he was conspicuous above all 
the rest. It was evident, too, that this 'weakness,' as 
they deemed it, had sapped nothing of his courage, nor 
detracted in aught from his resolute daring — ever fore- 
most, as he was, wherever peril was to be confronted. 

I ruminated long and frequently over this, to me, 
singular trait of character. Whole days as I rambled 
the prairies alone in search of game, the tedious hours 
of the night I would lie awake, speculating upon it, and 
wondering if it were impulses of this nature that elevated 
men to high deeds and generous actions, and — to realise 
my conception in one word — made them Gentlemen. 

To be sure, in all the accessory advantages of such, 
Halkett was most lamentably deficient, and it would have 
13 2 c 



402 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

been labour in vain to endeavour to conform him to any 
one of the usages of the polite world ; and yet, I thought, 
might it not be possible that this rude, unlettered man 
might have within him, in the recesses of his own heart, 
all those finer instincts, all those refinements of high 
feeling and honour, that make up a gentleman — like a 
lump of pure virgin gold encased in a mass of pudding- 
stone. The study of this problem took an intense hold 
upon me ; for while I could recognise in myself a con- 
siderable power for imitating all the observations of the 
well-bred world, I grieved to see that these graces were 
mere garments, which no more influenced a man's real 
actions than the colour of his coat or the shape of his hat 
will affect the stages of an ague or the paroxysms of a 
fever. 

To become a gentleman, according to my very crude 
notions of that character, was the ruling principle of my 
life. I knew that rank, wealth, and station, were all 
indispensably requisite ; but these I also fancied might be 
easily counterfeited, while other gifts must be absolutely 
possessed — such as a good address, a skill in all manly 
exercises, a personal courage ever ready to the proof, a 
steady adherence to a pledged word. Now I tried to 
educate myself to all these, and, to a certain extent, I 
succeeded. In fact, I experienced what all men have 
who have set up a standard before them, that constant 
measurement will make one grow taller. I fancied that 
Halkett and myself were on the way to the same object 
by different roads. Forgive the absurd presumption, 
most benevolent reader, for there is really something 
insufferably ludicrous in the very thought, and I make 
the confession now only in the fulness of a heart which 
is determined to have no concealments. 

That I rode my mustang with a greater air — that I 
wore my black fox pelisse more jauntily— that I slung my 
rifle at my back with a certain affectation of grace — that 
I was altogether ' got up ' with an eye to the picturesque, 



CON CREGAN 403 

did not escape my companions, who made themselves 
vastly merry at pretensions which, in their eyes, were so 
supremely ridiculous, but which amply repaid me for all 
the sarcasm by suggesting a change of their name for me 
— my old appellation, ' II Lepero,' being abandoned for ' II 
Conde' — the Count. It matters little in what spirit you 
give a man a peculiar designation, the world take it up 
in their own fashion, and he himself conforms to it, 
whether for good or evil. 

As the ' Conde,' I doubtless displayed many a laughable 
affectation, and did many things in open caricature of the 
title ; but, on the other hand, the name spurred me on to 
actions of most perilous daring, and made me confront 
danger for the very sake of the hazard ; until, by degrees, 
I saw that the designation conferred upon me — at first 
in mockery — became a mark of honourable esteem among 
my comrades. 

The prairie was fruitful in incidents to test my courage. 
As the season wore on, and game became more scarce, we 
were compelled to pursue the bison into distant tracks, 
verging upon the hunting-grounds of an Indian tribe, 
called the Camanches. At first our rencontres were 
confined to meeting with a scout, or some small outlying 
party of the tribe, but later on we ventured farther 
within their frontier; and upon one occasion we pene- 
trated a long and winding ravine, which expanded into 
a small plain, in the midst of which, to our amazement, 
we beheld their village. 

The scene was in every way a striking one. It was a 
few minutes after sunset, and while yet the ' yellow glory ' 
of the hour bathed the earth, that we saw the cane wig- 
wams of the Camanches, as they stood at either side of 
a little river that, with many a curve, meandered through 
the plain. Some squaws were seated on the banks, and a 
number of children were sporting in the stream, which 
appeared too shallow for swimming. Here and there, at 
the door of the wigwams, an old man was sitting smoking. 



404 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

Some mustangs, seemingly fresh caught, were picketed in 
a circle, and a few boys were amusing themselves, torment- 
ing the animals into bounds and curvets — the laughter the 
sport excited being audible where we stood. The soft 
influence of the hour — the placid beauty of the picture — 
the semblance of tranquil security impressed on every- 
thing — the very childish gambols — were all images so full 
of home and homelike memories, that we halted and 
gazed on the scene in speechless emotion. Perhaps each 
of us at that moment had traversed in imagination half a 
world of space, and was once again a child ! As for myself, 
infancy had been ' no fairy dream,' and yet my eyes filled 
up, and yet my lip quivered as I looked. 

It was evident that the warriors of the tribe were 
absent on some expedition. The few figures that moved 
about were either the very old, the very young, or the 
squaws, who, in all the enjoyment of that gossiping, as 
fashionable in the wild regions of the West as in the 
gilded boudoirs of Paris, sat enjoying the cool luxury of 
the twilight. 

Our party consisted of only four and myself; and 
standing, as we did, in a grove of nut-trees, were perfectly 
concealed from view ; no sense of danger, then, interfered 
with our enjoyment of the prospect ; we gazed calmly on 
the scene on which we looked. 

1 Sehhor Conde,' whispered one of my party, a swarthy 
Spaniard from the Basque, ' what a foray we might make 
yonder ! their young men are absent ; they could make no 
defence. Caramba ! it would be rare sport ! ' 

' Cond4 mio I ' cried a Mexican, who had once been a 
horse-dealer, 'I see mustangs yonder worth five hundred 
dollars, if they are worth a cent; let us have a dash 
forward, and carry them off.' 

'There is gold in that village,' muttered an old 
Ranchero with a white moustache; 'I see sif ting-sieves 
drying beside the stream.' 

And so, thought I to myself, these are the associates 



CON CREGAN 405 

who, a moment back, I dreamed were sharing my thoughts, 
and whose hearts, I fancied, were overflowing with softest 
emotions. One, indeed, had not spoken, and to him I 
turned in hope. He was a dark-eyed, sharp-featured 
Breton. 'And you, Claude,' said I, 'what are your 
thoughts on this matter ? ' 

' I leave all in the hands of my captain,' said he, saluting 
in military fashion ; ' but if there be a pillage, I claim the 
woman that is sitting on the rock yonder, with a yellow 
girdle round her, as mine.' 

I turned away in utter disappointment. The robber- 
spirit was the only one I had evoked, and I grew sick at 
heart to think of it. How is it that, in certain moods of 
mind, the vices we are conversant with assume a double 
coarseness, and that we feel repugnance to what daily 
habit had seemed to have inured us ? 

' Is it to be, or not ? ' growled the Spaniard, who, having 
tightened his girths, and examined the lock of his rifle, 
now stood in somewhat patient anxiety. 

'Since when have we become banditti,' said I insult- 
ingly, ' that we are to attack and pillage helpless women 
and children ? Are these the lessons Halkett has taught us ? 
Back to the camp. Let us have no more of such counsels.' 

' We meet nothing but scoffs and jibes when we return 
empty-handed,' muttered the Spaniard. ' It is seldom such 
an opportunity offers of a heavy booty.' 

' Right-about ! ' said I imperiously, not caring to risk my 
ascendency by debating the question further. They obeyed 
without a word ; but it was easy to see that the spirit of 
mutiny was but sleeping. For some miles of the way a 
dreary silence pervaded the party. I tried all in my power 
to bring back our old good understanding, and erase the 
memory of the late altercation ; but even my friend 
Narvasque held aloof, and seemed to side with the others. 
I was vexed and irritated to a degree the amount of 
the incident was far from warranting; nor was the fact 
that we were returning without any success without its 



406 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

influence. Moody and sad, I rode along at their head, not 
making any further effort to renew their confidence, when 
suddenly a spotted buck started from the shelter of a 
prairie roll and took his way across the plain. To unsling 
my rifle and fire at him was the work of half a minute. 
My shot missed ; and I heard, or thought I heard, a burst 
of contemptuous laughter behind me. Without turning 
my head I spurred my horse to a sharp gallop, and pro- 
ceeded to reload my rifle as I went. The buck had, how- 
ever, got a ' long start ' of me ; and although my mustang 
had both speed and endurance, I soon saw that the chase 
would prove unrewarding ; and, after a hot pursuit of half 
a mile, I pulled up and wheeled about. Where was my 
party ? not a trace of them was to be seen. I rode up a little 
slope of the prairie, and then, at a great way off, I could 
descry their figures, as with furious speed they were hasten- 
ing back in the direction of the Camanche village. I cannot 
express the bitterness of the feeling that came over me. 

It was no longer the sense of outraged humanity which 
filled my heart — selfishness usurped the ground altogether, 
and it was the injured honour of a leader, whose orders 
had been despised. It was the affront to my authority 
wounded me so deeply. Then I fancied to myself their 
triumphant return to the camp, laden with the spoils of 
victory, and full of heroic stories of their own deeds ; while 
I, the captain of the band, should have nothing to con- 
tribute but a lame narrative of misplaced compassion, 
which some might call by even a harsher name. Alas for 
weak principle! I wished myself back at their head a 
hundred times over. There was no atrocity that, for a 
minute or two, I did not feel myself capable of ; I really 
believe that, if any other course were open to me, I had 
never turned my steps back toward the camp. Crestfallen 
and sad indeed was I, as I rode forward — now cursing the 
insubordinate rabble that deserted me — now inveighing 
against my own silly efforts to change the ferocious in- 
stincts of such natures. In my bitterness of spirit I 



CON CREGAN 407 

attributed all to my foolish ambition of being ' the gentle- 
man.' What business had such a character there? or 
what possible link could bind him to such companion- 
ship ? In my discontent, too, I fancied that these ' gentle- 
men ' traits were like studding-sails, only available in fine 
weather and with a fair wind; but that for the storms 
and squalls of life such fine-spun canvas was altogether 
unsuited. Is it needful I should say that I lived to dis- 
cover this to be an error ? 

To reach the camp ere nightfall, I was obliged to ride 
fast, and the quick stride of my half-breed did more to 
rally my spirits than all my philosophisings. 

The slight breeze of sunset was blowing over the prairie 
when I came in sight of the skirting of nut-wood which 
sheltered the camp to the ' southward.' It was like home, 
somehow, that spot. The return to it each evening had 
given it that character, and one's instincts are invariably 
at work to make substitutes for all the prestiges that tell 
of family and friends. I experienced the feeling strongly 
now, as I entered the wood, and spurred my nag onward, 
impatient to catch a glimpse at the watch-fires. As I 
issued from the copse, and looked up towards the little 
tableland where the camp used to stand, I saw nothing 
that spoke of my friends. There were no fires ; not a 
figure moved on the spot. I pressed eagerly forward to 
ascertain the reason, my mind full of its own explanation 
of the fact, in which, I own it, fears were already blending. 
Perhaps they had removed somewhat higher up the 
stream ; perhaps the Camanches had been there, and a 

battle had been fought ; perhaps But why continue ? 

Already I stood upon the spreading surface of tableland, 
and was nearing the spot where all our huts were built, 
and now a deep booming noise filled my ears — a hollow, 
cavernous sound, like the sea surging within some rocky 
cave. I listened ; it grew fuller and louder, or seemed to 
do so, and I could mark sounds that resembled the crash, 
ing of timber and the splintering of rocks. 



408 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

My suspense had now risen to torture, and my poor 
mustang, equally frightened as myself, refused to move 
a step, but stood with his ears flattened back, forelegs 
extended, and protruded nostril, sniffing, in a very 
paroxysm of fright. 

I dismounted, and fastening his head to his foreleg, in 
Mexican fashion, advanced on foot. Each step I made 
brought me nearer to the sounds, which now I perceived 
were those of a fast-rolling river. A horrid dread shot 
through my heart — my senses reeled as it struck me — but 
with an effort I sprang forward, and there, deep below 
me, in a boiling ocean of foam, rolled the river along the 
channel which we had succeeded in damming up on the 
mountain-side, and in whose dry bed all our labours had 
been followed. In an instant the whole truth revealed 
itself before me : the stream, swollen by the rain falling 
in the distant mountains, had overborne the barrier, and 
descending with all its force, had carried away village, 
mines, and every trace of the ill-fated expedition. The 
very trees that grew along the banks were at first under- 
mined, and then swept away, and might be seen waving 
their great branches above the flood, and then disappear- 
ing for ever — like gigantic figures struggling in the 
agony of drowning. The rude smel ting-house, built of 
heavy stones and masses of rock, had been carried down 
with the rest. Trees, whose huge size attested ages 
of growth, reeled with the shock that shook the earth 
beside them, and seemed to tremble at their own coming 
destiny. 

The inundation continued to increase at each instant, 
and more than once the 'yellowest' waves compelled me 
to retire. This it was which first led me to despair of my 
poor comrades, since I inferred that the torrent had burst 
its barrier only a short space before my arrival ; and as the 
sunset was the hour when all the gold discovered during 
the day was washed, before being deposited in the smelting- 
house, I conjectured that my companions were overtaken 



CON CREGAN 409 

at that moment by the descending flood, and that none 
had escaped destruction. 

However the sad event took place, I never saw any of 
them after ; and although I tracked the stream for miles, 
and spent the entire of two days in search of them, I did 
not discover one trace of the luckless expedition. So 
changed had everything become — such a terrible alteration 
had the scene undergone — that whenever I awoke from a 
sleep, short and broken as my feverish thoughts would 
make it, it was with difficulty I could believe that this 
was once the ' Camp ' : that where that swollen and angry 
torrent rolled had been the dry, gravelly bed where joy- 
ous parties laboured; that beneath those cedars, where 
now the young alligator stirred the muddy slime, we 
used to sit and chat in pleasant companionship ; that 
human joys, and passions, and hopes once lived and 
flourished in that little space where ruin and desolation 
had now set their marks, and where the weariest traveller 
would not linger, so sorrow-struck and sad was every 
feature of the scene. 

Poor Halkett was uppermost in my thoughts — his 
remembrance of his old mother, his plans for her future 
happiness and comfort, formed, doubtless, many a long 
year before, and only realised to be dashed for ever ! How 
many a wanderer and outcast, doubtless, like him, have 
sunk into an unhonoured grave in far-away lands, and of 
whom no trace exists, and who are classed among the 
worthless and the heartless of their families ; and yet, if 
we had record of them, we might learn, perhaps, how 
thoughts of home — of some dear mother — of some kind 
sister — of some brother, who had been more than father — 
had spirited them on to deeds of daring and privation, 
and how, in all the terrible conflict of danger in which 
their days were spent, one bright hope of returning 
home at last glittered like a light-ship on a lonely 
sea, and shed a radiance when all around was dark and 
dreary. 



410 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

The third day broke, and still found me lingering beside 
the fatal torrent, not only without meeting with any of 
my former comrades, but even of that party who had 
returned to the Indian village, not one came back. In 
humble imitation of prairie habit, I erected a little cross 
on the spot, and with my penknife inscribed poor Halkett's 
name. This done, I led my horse slowly away through 
the tangled underwood, till I reached the open plain, then 
I struck out into a gallop, and rode in the direction where 
the sun was setting. 

The mere detail of personal adventures, in which the 
traits of character, or the ever-varying aspects of human 
nature find no place, must always prove wearisome. The 
most 'hair-breadth 'scapes' require for their interest the 
play of passions and emotions, and in this wise the perils 
of the lonely traveller amid the deserts of the Far West 
could not vie in interest with the slightest incident of 
domestic life, wherein human cares and hopes and joys are 
mingled up. 

I will not longer trespass on the indulgence of any one 
who has accompanied me so far, by lingering over the 
accidents of my prairie life — nor tell by what chances I 
escaped death in some of its most appalling forms. The 
Choctaw,the jaguar, the spotted leopard of the jungle, 
the cayman of the sand lakes, had each in turn marked 
me for its prey, and yet, preserved from every peril, I suc- 
ceeded in reaching the little village of La Noria, or the 
'Well,' which occupies one of the opening gorges of 
the Rocky Mountains, at the outskirts of which some of 
the inhabitants found me asleep, with clothing reduced to 
very rags, nothing remaining of all my equipment save 
my rifle, and a little canvas pouch of ammunition. 

My entertainers were miners, whose extreme poverty 
and privation would have been inexplicable, had I not 
learned that the settlement was formed exclusively of 
convicts, who had either been pardoned during the term 
of their sentence, or, having completed their time, pre- 



/ u *ff//fl/\. 




"////;*/ 



CON CREGAN 411 

ferred passing the remainder of their lives in exile. As a 
' billet of conduct ' was necessary to all who settled at the 
village, the inhabitants, with a very few exceptions, were 
peaceable, quiet, and inoffensive, and of the less well- 
disposed, a rigidly severe police took the most effective 
charge. 

Had there been any way of disposing of me, I should 
not have been suffered to remain ; but as there was no 
' parish ' to which they could ' send me on,' nor any distinct 
fund upon which to charge me, I was retained in a spirit 
of rude compassion, for which, had it even been ruder, I 
had been grateful. The Gobernador of the settlement 
was an old Mexican officer of Santa Anna's staff, called 
Salezar, and whose 'promotion' was a kind of penalty 
imposed upon him for his robberies and extortions in 
the commissariat of the army. He was not altogether 
unworthy of the trust, since it was asserted that there 
never was a convict vice nor iniquity in which he was 
not thoroughly versed, nor could any scheme be hatched, 
the clue to which his dark ingenuity could not discover. 

I was summoned before him on the day of my arrival, 
and certainly a greater contrast could not have been 
desired than was the bravery of his costume to the rags 
of mine. A Spanish hat and feathers, such as is only seen 
upon the stage, surmounted his great red and carbuncled 
face ; a pair of fiery red moustaches, twisted into two 
complete circles, with a tail out of them like an eccentric 
'Q'; a sky-blue jacket covered with silver buttons; tight 
pantaloons of the same colour, and Hessian boots, made 
up the chief details of a figure, whose unwieldy size the 
tightness of the dress did not by any means set off to 
advantage. He wore besides a quantity of daggers, pistols, 
and stilettos suspended around his person, and a huge 
Barcelona blade hung by two silver chains from his side, 
the rattle and jingle of which, as he spoke, appeared to 
give him the most lively pleasure. I was ordered to stand 
before a table at which he sat, with a kind of secretary 



412 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

at his side, while he interrogated me as to who I was, 
whence I came, the object of my journey, and so forth. 
My account of myself was given in the very briefest 
way I could devise — totally devoid of all colouring or 
exaggeration, and, for me, with a most singular avoidance 
of the romantic ; and yet, to my utter discomfiture, from 
the very announcement of my name, down to the last 
incident of my journey, he characterised every statement 
by the very short and emphatic word ' a lie,' desiring the 
secretary to record the same in his ledger as his own 
firm conviction; 'and add,' said he solemnly, 'that the 
fellow is a spy from the States of North America — that 
he probably belonged to some exploring party into our 
frontier, and that he will most certainly be hanged 
whenever the smallest offence is proved against him.' 
These benign words were most royally spoken, and I 
made my acknowledgments for them by taking off 
my tattered and greasy cap, and, with a most urbane 
bow, wishing him health and happiness for half a 
century to come to pronounce similar blessings upon 
many others. 

The bystanders did look, I confess, somewhat terrified 
at my impromptu courtesy; but Salezar, upon whom my 
rags, and my grotesque appearance generally, produced 
a rather amusing effect, laughed heartily, and bade them 
give me something to eat. The order, simple and in- 
telligible as it was, at least to me, seemed to evoke the 
strangest signs of surprise and astonishment, and not 
unreasonably; for, as I afterwards came to know, no 
Lazarus ate of the crumbs which fell from this 'rich 
man's table,' while from the poor herd of the settlers, 
not a crust nor a parched pea could be expected, as 
they were fed by rations so scantily doled out as barely 
to support life. The order to feed me was therefore 
issued pretty much in the same spirit which made Marie 
Antoinette recommend the starving people to eat brioche. 
As no one was to be found, however, bold enough to 



CON CREGAN 413 

express a doubt as to the facility of the measure, I was 
led away in silence. 

A very animated little discussion arose in the street 
as to what I was to get? where to have it? and who 
to give it? difficulties which none seemed able to solve 
by any explanation save the usual Mexican one of 
quien sabe? or 'who knows?' Having uttered which in 
accents of very convincing embarrassment, each went 
his way, leaving me standing with an old mule-driver, 
the only one who had not delivered himself of this 
speech. 

Now it chanced that the well from which the village 
derived its name of La Noria had originally been worked 
by two mules, who, having died off, their places were 
supplied by two miserable asses of the prairie breed, 
creatures not much bigger than sheep, and scarcely 
stronger. These wretched beasts had been for years 
past stimulated to their daily labour by the assiduous 
persecutions of a fierce English bulldog, who, with bark 
and bite, made their lives a very pretty martyrdom. 
Either worn out by his unremitting exertions, or that 
asses' flesh (of which, from their hocks and hind-quarters 
generally, he freely partook) disagreed with him, the 
animal sickened and died, leaving the poor Mulero to 
his own unaided devices to drive the donkeys round the 
charmed circle. I believe that he did all that mere man 
was capable of — in fact, in everything, save using his teeth, 
he imitated closely the practices of the illustrious defunct. 
But asses though they were, they soon discovered that the 
'great motive principle' was wanting, and betook them- 
selves to a far easier and more congenial mode of doing 
the day's work. 

Now the Mulero was a man of thought and reflection, 
and it occurred to him that if asses, however inadequately, 
could yet, in some sort, perform the functions of mules, 
there was no reason why a man, even a very poor-looking 
and ragged one, should not replace a bulldog. There was 



414 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

that hungry, half -starved look about me, too, that vouched 
my temper would not be of the sweetest, and he eyed me 
with the glance of a connoisseur. At last Mijo — for such 
was he called — made the proposal to me in all form, ex- 
plaining that my predecessor had had his rations allowed 
him like a colonist, and was entitled to sleep under cover 
at the house of his former mistress, La Senhora Dias, ' who,' 
he added, with a sly wink, ' was my countrywoman.' Well 
knowing a Mexican never boggles at a lie, no matter how 
broad and palpable, I took no notice of what I at once 
concluded to be impossible, but proceeded to inquire as to 
the precise functions I might be expected to perform in my 
canine capacity. 

' A mere nothing,' said he, with a shrug of his shoulders : 
' we harness the beasts at daybreak, say three o'clock ; by 
eight the water is all up ; then you can sleep or amuse 
yourself till four of the afternoon, when the Commandante 
Salezar likes to have cool water for his bath; that only 
takes an hour; then you are free again till night 
closes in.' 

' And what then ? ' asked I impatiently. 

' You have your rounds at night.' 

' My rounds ! where, and what for ? ' 

'Against the prairie wolves, that now and then are 
daring enough to come down into the very settlement, 
and carry off kids and lambs — ay, and sometimes don't 
stop there.' 

He winked with a terrible significance at the last 
words. 

'So, then, I am not only to bark at the asses all day, 
but I am to bay the wolves by night?' said I, half 
indignantly. 

' Lupo did it,' responded he, with a nod. 

' He was a dog, Senhor Mijo,' said I. 

' Ah, that he was ! ' added he, in a tone very different 
from my remark, accompanying it with a most disparag- 
ing glance at my ragged habiliments. I read the whole 



CON CREGAN 415 

meaning of the look at once, and hung my head, abashed 
at the disparaging comparison. 

He waited patiently for my reply, and perceiving that I 
was still silent, he said, ' Well, is it a bargain ? ' 

' Agreed,' said I, with a sigh, and wondering if Fortune 
had yet any lower depths in store for me, I followed him 
to his hut. Mi jo proceeded to acquaint me with all the 
details of my office, and also certain peculiarities of the 
two beasts for whose especial misery I was engaged. If 
compassion could have entered into my nature, it might 
have moved me at sight of them. Their haunches and 
hocks were notched and scored with the marks of teeth, 
while their tails were a series of round balls, like certain 
old-fashioned bell-ropes, the result of days of suffering. 

' I am so accustomed to the name, I must call you 
" Lupo," ' said Mijo ; ' you have no objection ? ' 

' Not in the least,' said I ; ' if a " dog in office," why not a 
dog in name ? ' 

That same day I was conducted to the ' Tienda del Gato,' 
the shop of 'The Cat,' at the sign of which animal La 
Senhora Dias resided. It was a small cottage at the very 
extremity of the village, in a somewhat pretty garden ; and 
here a kind of canteen was held, at which the settlers pro- 
cured cigars, brandy, and other like luxuries, in exchange 
for their ' tickets of labour.' 

Of the senhora, some mystery existed. The popular 
rumour was, that she had been the favourite mistress of 
Santa Anna, whose influence, however, could not rescue 
her from the fate of a convict, to which she was sentenced 
for forgery. Her great patron contrived, however, to 
release her from the indignity of a penal settlement, and 
placed her at La Noria, where she had resided two years. 
Some said that it was to conceal herself from the prying 
curiosity of the vulgar; another, that it was to hide the 
brand of the letter ' F,' burned with a hot iron in her fore- 
head ; others, again, that it was by Santa Anna's express 
order (but what the reason?) she always wore a black 



416 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

velvet mask, which, since her arrival at the village, none 
had seen her remove. 

A hundred stories, one more absurd than another, were 
circulated about her high birth and condition, and the vast 
wealth she had once possessed ; the only real clue I could 
discover to these narratives being the simple fact that her 
dog, a fierce English bulldog — my own predecessor, and 
who by peculiar favour was permitted to accompany her 
— used to wear a massive silver collar, richly chased and 
ornamented ; fiction, indeed, had invested it with precious 
stones and gems, but these were purely imaginative orna- 
ments. Even devoid of jewels, such was deemed an un- 
equivocal proof of riches among those whose poverty 
was of the very lowest order, and La Senhora Dias 
bought her ' millionaire ' character at a cheap price. To me, 
the most interesting part in her story was that which 
called her my countrywoman, and yet this seemed so 
unlikely, and was coupled with so much that I knew to 
be impossible, that I did not venture to believe it. 

It was the hour of the siesta when we reached 'The 
Cat,' so that I had no opportunity of seeing the senhora. 
Mi jo conducted me to a little building in the garden, 
originally built as a hut for a man who watched the fruit, 
but latterly inhabited by Lupo. There I was installed at 
once. Some chestnut leaves were my bed, a small spring 
afforded me water ; I was to receive eight ounces of maize 
bread each day, with half an ounce of coffee — Lupo had 
'taken 'the latter 'out' in sausages. Of the fruit of the 
garden, consisting of limes, oranges, peaches, and mangoes, 
I was free of whatever fell to the ground — a species of 
blackmail that never failed me at the dessert. These were 
my perquisites — my duties I already knew; and so Mijo 
left me, to recruit myself by one day's rest, and on 'the 
morrow ' to begin my labours. 

I shall never forget the strange melange of feelings, 
pleasurable and the reverse, which came over me as I 
first found myself alone, and had time to think over 



CON CREGAN 417 

my condition. Many would perhaps have said that the 
degradation would have mastered all other thoughts, 
and that the life to which I was reduced would have 
tended to break down all self-respect and esteem. 
Whether to my credit or otherwise, I know not, but I did 
not feel thus — nay, I even went so far as to congratulate 
myself that a source of livelihood was open to me which 
did not involve me in forced companionship, and that I 
might devote so many hours of each day to my own 
undisturbed thoughts, as I wandered about that vast 
garden, in which no other than myself appeared ever 
to set foot. 

Culture it had none, or seemed to need it. One of my 
duties was, to pluck the ripe fruit every day, ere I issued 
forth to the ' Well,' and place the baskets at the senhora's 
door ; and save this, I believe, all was left to Nature. What 
a wilderness of rank luxuriance it was ! The earth had 
become so fertilised by the fallen fruit left to rot as it 
fell, tha£ the very atmosphere was loaded with the odour 
of peaches, and oranges, and pomegranates. A thousand 
gaudy and brilliant flowers too glittered among the 
tall grass that tried to overtop them; and insects and 
creatures, of colour still more beauteous, fluttered and 
chirped among the leaves, making a little chorus of 
sounds that mingled deliciously with the rippling stream 
that murmured near. 



13 2d 




LA SENHORA 

O this very hour I am unable to say how long 
I remained at the village of La Noria. Time 
slipped away unchronicled ; the seasons varied little, save for 
about two winter months, when heavy snows fell, and severe 
cold prevailed ; but spring followed these with a suddenness 
that seemed like magic, and then came summer and autumn, 
as it were, blended into one — all the varied beauties of the 
one season vying with the other. This was all that was 
wanting to complete the illusion which the monotony of 
my daily life suggested ; for me there was no companion- 
ship — no link that bound me to my fellow-men; the 
• Sunday,' too, shone no Sabbath-day for me.' The humble 
range of my duties never varied ; nor, save with Mi jo, did 
I ever exchange even a passing word. Indeed, the hours 
of my labour were precisely those when all others slept ; 
and whether I tracked the wayworn asses at their dreary 
round, or pursued my solitary path at night, my own was 
the only voice I ever heard. It was the 'life of a dog'; 



THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 419 

but, after all, how many states of existence there are far 
less desirable ! I had always wherewithal to subsist upon ; 
I had no severe labour, nor any duty incompatible with 
health ; and I had— greatest blessing of all — time for self- 
communing and reflection — that delicious leisure, in which 
the meanest hovel ever raised by hands becomes one's 
Home. I was happy, then, after my own fashion : various 
little contrivances to lighten my tasks amused and occu- 
pied my thoughts. To bring the garden into order was 
also a passion with me ; and although necessitated to 
invent and fashion the tools to work with, I was not 
deterred by this difficulty, but manfully overcame it. I 
greatly doubted if Watt ever gazed at a new improvement 
in steam machinery with half the delight I looked upon 
my first attempt at a rake. Then what pleasure did I 
experience as I saw the trim beds covered with blooming 
flowers — the clearly raked walks — the grass-plots close 
shaven and weedless ! How the thoughts of changes and 
alterations filled my mind, as I wandered in the dreary 
night ! What trellises did I not invent ! — what festoons of 
the winding vine-branches! — what bowers of the leafy 
banana ! Like the old gardener, Adam, I began at last to 
think that all these things were too beautiful for one 
man's gaze ; that such ecstasies as mine deserved com- 
panionship, and that the selfishness of my enjoyment 
was the greatest blot upon its perfection. When this 
notion caught hold of me I wandered away in fancy to 
the ' Donna Maria de los Dolores ' ; and how fervently 
did I believe that, with her to share it, my present exist- 
ence had been a life of Paradise ! 

These thoughts at last exhausted themselves, and I fell 
a-thinking why the Sehhora Dias never had the curiosity 
to visit her garden, nor see the changes I had wrought in 
it. To be sure, it was true, she knew nothing of them — how 
then was I to make the fact reach her ears? The only 
hours that I was at liberty were those when every close- 
drawn curtain and closed shutter proclaimed the siesta. 



420 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

It was clear enough that a whole lifetime might slip 
over in this fashion without my ever seeing her. There 
was something in the difficulty that prompted a desire to 
overcome it ; and so I set myself to plan the means by 
which I might make her acquaintance. Of the windows 
which looked towards the garden, the blinds were always 
closed ; the single door that led into it as invariably locked. 
I bethought me of writing a humble and most petitionary 
epistle, setting forth my utter solitude and isolation ; but 
where were pen and ink and paper to come from ? — these 
were luxuries the Governador himself alone possessed. 
My next thought was more practicable ; it was to deposit 
each morning upon her basket of fruit a little bouquet of 
fresh flowers. But, then, would they ever reach her 
hands? — would not the servant ( purloin and intercept my 
offering ? — ay, that was to be thought of. 

By most assiduous watching, I at last discovered that her 
bedroom looked into the garden by a small grated window, 
almost hidden by the gnarled branches of a wild fig- 
tree. This at once afforded me the opportunity I desired, 
and up the branches of this I climbed each morning of 
my life, to fasten to the bars my little bouquet of flowers. 

With what intense expectancy did I return home the 
first morning of my experiment ! what vacillations of hope 
and fear agitated me as I came near the garden, and 
looking up, saw, to my inexpressible delight, that the 
bouquet was gone ! I could have cried for very joy ! At 
last I was no longer an outcast, forgotten by my fellows. 
One, at least, knew of my existence, and possibly pitied 
and compassionated my desolation. 

I needed no more than this to bind me again to the 
love of life ; frail as was the link, it was enough whereupon 
to hang a thousand hopes and fancies, and it suggested 
matter for cheering thought, where before the wide waste 
of existence stretched pathless and purposeless before me. 
How I longed for that skill by which I might make the 
flowers the interpreters of my thoughts ! I knew nothing 



CON CREGAN 421 

of this, however ; I could but form them into such com- 
binations of colour and order as should please the senses, 
but not appeal to the heart; and yet I did try to invent 
a language, forgetting the while that the key of the cipher 
must always remain with myself. 

It chanced that one night, when on my rounds outside 
the village, I suddenly discovered that I had forgotten 
the caps for my rifle. I hastened homeward to fetch them, 
and entered the garden by a small door, which I had myself 
made, and of which few were cognisant. It was a night 
of bright moonlight ; but the wind was high, and drifted 
large masses of cloud across the sky, alternately hiding and 
displaying the moon. Tracking, with an instinct too well 
trained to become deceptive, the walks of the garden, 
while a dark mass shut out the ' lamp of night,' I reached 
my hut, when suddenly, on a little stone-bench beside the 
door, I beheld a female figure seated. She was scarcely 
four yards from where I stood, and in the full glare of the 
moonlight, as palpable as at noonday. She was tall and 
elegantly formed ; her air and carriage, even beneath the 
coarse folds of a common dress of black serge, such as 
bespoke condition ; her hands, too, were white as marble, 
and finely and delicately formed; in one of them she 
held a velvet mask, and I watched with anxiety to see the 
face from which it had been removed, which was still 
averted from me. At last she turned slowly round, and I 
could perceive that her features, although worn by evident 
suffering and sorrow, had once been beautiful ; the traits 
were in perfect symmetry ; the mouth alone had a character 
of severity, somewhat at variance with the rest, but its 
outline was faultless — the expression only being unpleasing. 
The dark circles around the eyes attested the work of years 
of grief — bitter and corroding. 

What should I do ? advance boldly, or retire noiselessly 
from the spot ? If the first alternative presented perhaps 
the only chance of ever speaking to her, it might also 
prevent her ever again visiting the garden. This was a 



422 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

difficulty, and ere I had time to solve it, she arose to leave 
the spot. I coughed slightly — she halted and looked 
iround, without any semblance of terror or even surprise, 
and so we stood face to face. 

'You should have been on your rounds at this hour!' 
said she, with a manner of almost stern expression, and 
using the Spanish language. 

' So I should, senhora ; but having forgot a part of my 
equipment, I returned to seek it.' 

'They would punish you severely if it were known,' 
said she, in the same tone. 

' I am aware of that,' replied I ; ' and yet I would incur 
the penalty twice over to have seen one of whom my 
thoughts for every hour these months past have been full.' 

' Of me ? you speak of me ? ' 

' Yes, senhora, of you. I know the presumption of my 
words ; but bethink you that it is not in such a spirit they 
are uttered, but as the cry of one humbled and humiliated 
to the very dust, and who, on looking at you, remembers 
the link that binds him to his fellows, and for the instant 
rises above the degradation of his sad condition.' 

' And it is through me — by looking at me — such thoughts 
are inspired!' said she, in an accent of piercing anguish. 
' Are you an English youth ? ' 

' Yes, senhora, as much as an Irishman can call himself.' 

' And is this the morality of your native land,' said she, 
in English, 'that you can feel an elevation of heart and 
sentiment from the contemplation of such as I am? 
Shame, sir — shame upon your falsehood, or worse shame 
upon your principle.' 

'I only know you as my day and night dreams have 
made you, lady — as the worshipper creates his own idol.' 

' But you have heard of me ? ' said she, speaking with a 
violence and rapidity that betokened a disordered mind. 
'All the world has heard of me, from the Havannah to 
Gruajuaqualla, as the poisoner and the forger ! ' 

I shook my head dissentingly. 



CON CREGAN 423 

' It is, then, because you are less than human ! ' said she 
scoffingly, ' or you had heard it ; but mind, sir, it is untrue. 
I am neither.' She paused, and then, in a voice of terrible 
emotion, said, ' There is enough of crime upon this poor 
head, but not that! And where have you lived, not to 
have heard of La Senhora Dias?' said she, with an 
hysteric laugh. 

In a few words I told her how I had made part of a 
great gold-searching expedition, and been utterly ruined 
by the calamity which destroyed my companions. 

'You would have sold yourself for gold wherewith to 
buy pleasure ! ' muttered she to herself. 

' I was poor, lady — I must needs do something for my 
support.' 

' Then why not follow humble labour ? What need of 
wealth ? Where had you learned its want or acquired the 
taste to expend it? You could only have imitated rich 
men's vices, not their virtues that sometimes ennoble 
them.' 

The wild vehemence of her manner, as with an ex- 
cessive rapidity she uttered these words, convinced me 
that her faculties were not under the right control of 
reason, and I followed her with an interest even 
heightened by that sad impression. 

' You see no one — you speak to none,' said she, turning 
round suddenly, 'else I should bid you forget that you 
have ever seen me.' 

'Are we to meet again, senhora ?' said I submissively, 
as I stood beside the door, of which she held the key in her 
hand. 

'Yes — perhaps — I don't know'; and so saying, she left 
me. 

Two months crept over, and how slowly they went! 
without my again seeing the senhora. Were it not that the 
bouquets which each morning I fastened to the window- 
bars were removed before noon, I could have fancied that 
she had no other existence than what my dreamy imagina- 



424 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

tion gave her. The heavy wooden jalousies were never 
opened — the door remained close locked — not a foot-tread 
marked the gravel near it. It was clear to me she had 
never crossed the threshold since the night I first saw her. 

I fell into a plodding, melancholy mood. The tiresome 
routine of my daily life — its dull, unvarying monotony, 
began to wear into my soul, and I ceased either to think 
over the past or speculate on the future, but would sit 
for hours long in a moody reverie, actually unconscious of 
everything. 

Sometimes I would make an effort to throw off this 
despondency, and try, by recollection of the active energy 
of my own nature, to stir up myself to an effort of one 
kind or other; but the unbroken stillness — the vast motion- 
less solitude around me — the companionless isolation in 
which I lived, would resume their influence, and with a 
weary sigh I would resign myself to a hopelessness that 
left no wish in the heart save for a speedy death. 

Even castle-building — the last resource of imprisonment 
— ceased to interest. Life had also resolved itself into a 
succession of dreary images, of which the voiceless prairie, 
the monotonous water-wheel, the darkened path of my 
midnight patrol were the chief ; and I felt myself sinking 
day by day, hour by hour, into that resistless apathy 
through which no ray of hope ever pierces. 

At last I ceased even to pluck the flowers for the 
senhora's window. I deemed any exertion which might 
be avoided, needless, and taxed my ingenuity to find out 
contrivances to escape my daily toil. The garden I 
neglected utterly, and in the wild luxuriance of the soil 
the rank weeds soon effaced every sign of former culture. 
What a strange frame of mind was mine ! even the 
progress of this ruin gave me a pleasure to the full as 
great as that once felt in witnessing the blooming beauty 
of its healthful vegetation. I used to walk among the 
rank and noisome weeds, with the savage delight of some 
democratic leader who saw his triumph, amid the down- 



CON CREGAN 425 

fall of the beautiful, the richly prized, and the valued, 
experiencing a species of insane pleasure in the thought 
of some fancied vengeance. 

How the wild growth of the valueless weed overtopped 
the tender excellence of the fragrant plant — how the 
noisome odour overpowered its rich perfume — how, in 
fact, barbarism lorded it over civilisation, became a study 
to my distorted apprehension ; and I felt a diabolical joy 
at the victory. 

A little more, and this misanthropy had become mad- 
ness ; but a change was at hand. I was sitting one night 
in the garden — it was already the hour when my patrol 
should have begun, but latterly I had grown indifferent 
to the call of duty : as hope died out within me, so did 
fear also, and I cared little for the risk of punishment; 
nay, more, a kind of rebellious spirit was gaining upon me, 
and I wished for some accident which might bring me into 
collision with some one. As I sat thus, I heard a footstep 
behind me ; I turned, and saw the sefihora close to me. I 
did not rise to salute her, but gazed calmly and sternly 
without speaking. 

'Has the life of the dog imparted the dog's nature?' 
said she scoffingly. ' Why don't you speak ? ' 

' I have almost forgotten how to do so,' said I sulkily. 

' You can hear, at least ? ' 

I nodded assent. 

' And understand what you hear ? ' 

I nodded again. 

' Listen to me, then, attentively, for I have but a short 
time to stay, and have much to tell you ! and first of all, 
do you wish to escape from hence ? ' 

' Do I wish it ! ' cried I ; and in the sudden burst, long 
dried-up sources of emotion opened out afresh, and the 
heavy tears rolled down my cheeks. 

' Are you willing to incur the danger of attempting it ? ' 

' Ay, this instant ! ' 

' If so, the means await you. I want a letter conveyed 



426 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

to a certain person in the town of Guajuaqualla, which is 
about two hundred miles distant.' 

' In which direction ? ' asked I. 

' You shall see the map for yourself ; here it is,' said she, 
giving me a small package, which contained a map and a 
mariner's compass ; ' I only know that the path lies over 
the prairie, and by the banks of a branch of the Red River. 
There are villages and farmhouses when you, have reached 
that region.' 

' And how am I to do so, unmolested, senhora ? a foot- 
traveller on the prairie must be overtaken at once.' 

'You shall be well mounted on a mustang worth a 
thousand dollars; but ride him without spurring. If he 
bring you safe to Guajuaqualla he has paid his price.' She 
then proceeded to a detail, which showed how well and 
maturely every minute circumstance had been weighed 
and considered. The greatest difficulty lay in the fact 
that no water was to be met with nearer than eighty 
miles, which distance I should be compelled to compass on 
the first day. If this were a serious obstacle on one side, 
on the other it relieved me of all apprehension of being 
captured after the first forty or fifty miles were accom- 
plished, since my pursuers would scarcely venture farther. 

The senhora had provided for everything. My dress, 
which would have proclaimed me as a runaway settler, 
was to be exchanged for the gay attire of a Mexican 
horse-dealer: a green velvet jacket and hose, all slashed 
and decorated with jingling silver buttons, pistols, sabre, 
and rifle to suit. The mustang, whose saddle was to be 
fitted with the usual accompaniment of portmanteau and 
cloak, was also to have the leathern purse of the craft, 
with its massive silver lock, and a goodly ballast of 
doubloons within. Two days' provisions, and a gourd of 
brandy, completed an equipment which to my eyes was 
more than the wealth of an empire. 

' Are you content ? ' asked she, as she finished the 
catalogue. 



CON CREGAN 427 

I seized her hand and kissed it with a warm devotion. 

' Now for the reverse of the medal. You may be over- 
taken ; pursuit is almost certain ; it may be successful ; if 
so, you must tear the letter I shall give you to fragments, 
so small that all detection of its contents may be impossible. 
Sell your life dearly; this I counsel you, since a horrible 
death would be reserved for you if taken prisoner. Above 
all, don't betray me.' 

' I swear it ! ' said I solemnly, as I held up my hand in 
evidence of the oath. 

' Should you, however, escaping all peril, reach Guajua- 
qualla in safety, you will deliver this letter to the Senhor 
Estaban Olares, a well-known banker of that town. He 
will present you with any reward you think sufficient 
for your services, the peril of which cannot be estimated 
beforehand. This done — and here, mark me! I expect 
your perfect fidelity — all tie is severed between us. You 
are never to speak of me so long as I live ; nor, if by any 
sun of Fortune we should chance to meet again in life, 
are you to recognise me. You need be at no loss for the 
reasons of this request : the position in which I am here 
placed — the ignominy of an unjust sentence, as great as 
the shame of the heaviest guilt — will tell you why I 
stipulate for this. Are we agreed ? ' 

' We are. When do I set out ? ' 

'To-morrow, by daybreak; leave this a little before 
your usual time, pass out of the village, and, taking the 
path that skirts the beech-wood, make for the Indian 
ground — you know the spot — at the cedar-tree, close to 
that you will find your horse all ready — the letter is here.' 
Now for the first time her voice trembled slightly, and for 
an instant or two she seemed irresolute. ' My mind is 
sometimes so shaken by suffering,' said she, ' that I scarcely 
dare to trust its guidance ; and even now I feel as if the 
confidence I am about to place in an utter stranger, in 
an ' 

1 Outcast, you would say,' said I, finishing what she 



428 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

faltered at. ' Do not fear, then, one humbled as I have 
been can take offence at an epithet.' 

'Nor is it one such as I am who have the right to 
confer it,' said she, wiping the heavy drops from her eyes : 
— ' Good-bye, for ever ! since, if you keep your pledge, we 
are never to meet again.' She gave me her hand, which 
I kissed twice, and then, turning away, she passed into 
the house ; and before I even knew that she was gone, I 
was standing alone in the garden, wondering if what had 
just occurred could be real. 

If my journey was not without incident and adventure, 
neither were they of a character which it is necessary I 
should inflict upon my reader, who doubtless ere this has 
felt all the wearisome monotony of prairie life by reflec- 
tion. Enough that I say, after an interesting mistake of 
the 'trail,' which led me above a hundred miles astray, 
I crossed the Conchas River within a week, and reached 
Chihuahua, a city of considerable size, and far more 
pretentious than any I had yet seen in the ' Far West.' 

Built on the narrow gorge of two abrupt mountains, 
the little town consists of one great straggling street, 
which occupies each side of a torrent that descends in a 
great tumbling mass of foam and spray along its rocky 
course. It was the time of the monthly market or fair 
when I arrived, and the streets were crowded with 
peasants and muleteers in every imaginable costume. 
The houses were mostly built with projecting balconies, 
from which gay-coloured carpets and bright draperies 
hung down, while female figures sat lounging and smoking 
their cigarettes above ; the aspect of the place was at 
once picturesque and novel. Great wooden waggons of 
melons and cucumbers, nuts, casks of olive-oil and wine ; 
bales of bright scarlet cloth, in the dye of which they 
excel ; pottery ware ; droves of mustangs, fresh caught 
and capering in all their native wildness ; flocks of white 
goats, from the Cerzo Gorde, whose wool is almost as fine 
as the Llama's ; piles of firearms from Birmingham and 



CON CREGAN 429 

Li^ge, around which groups of admiring Indians were 
always gathered ; paroquets and scarlet jays, in cages ; 
richly ornamented housings for mule teams ; brass- 
mounted saddles, and a mass of other articles, littered 
and blocked up the way, so that all passage was extremely 
difficult. 

Before I approached the city, I had been canvassing 
with myself how best I might escape from the prying 
inquisitiveness to which every stranger is exposed on 
entering a new community. I might have spared myself 
the trouble, for I found that I was perfectly unnoticed in 
the motley throng with which I mingled. 

My strong-boned, high-bred mustang, indeed, called 
forth many a compliment as I rode past, but none had 
any eye, nor even a word, for the rider. At last, as I was 
approaching the inn, I beheld a small knot of men, whose 
dress and looks were not unfamiliar to me; and in a 
moment after I remembered that they were the Yankee 
horse-dealers I had met with at Austin some years before. 
As time had changed me far more than them, I trusted to 
escape recognition, not being by any means desirous of 
renewing the acquaintance. I ought to say, that besides 
my Mexican costume, I wore a very imposing pair of black 
moustaches and beard, the growth of two years at La 
Noria, so that detection was not very easy. 

While I was endeavouring to push my way between 
two huge hampers of tomatoes and lemons, one of this 
group, whom I at once recognised as Seth Chiseller, laid 
his hand on my beast's shoulder, and said, in Spanish, ' The 
mustang is for sale ? ' 

' No, senhor,' said I, with a true Mexican flourish ; ' he 
and all mine stand at your disposal, but I would not sell 
him.' 

Not heeding much the hackneyed courtesy of my 
speech, he passed his hands along the animal's legs, feeling 
his tendons and grasping his neat pasterns. Then, pro- 
ceeding to the hocks, he examined them carefully; after 



430 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

which he stepped a pace or two backwards, the better to 
survey him, when he said, ' Move him along in a gentle 
trot.' 

'Excuse me, senhor, I came here to buy, not to sell. 
This animal I do not mean to part with.' 

' Not if I were to offer you five hundred dollars ? ' said 
he, still staring at the beast. 

'Not if you were to say a thousand, senhor,' said I 
haughtily ; ' and now pray let me pass into the court, for 
we are both in need of refreshment.' 

' He an't no Mexican, that 'ere chap,' whispered one of 
the group to Chiseller. 

' He sits more like a Texan,' muttered another. 

'He'll be the devil, or a Choctaw outright, but Seth 
will have his beast out of him,' said another with a laugh ; 
and with this the group opened to leave me a free passage 
into the inn-yard. 

All the easy assurance I could put on did not convince 
myself that my fears were not written in my face as I 
rode forward. To be sure I did swagger to the top of 
my bent ; and as I flung myself from the saddle, I made 
my rifle, my brass scabbard, my sabretache, and my spurs 
perform a crash that drew many a dark eye to the 
windows, and set many a fan fluttering in attractive 
coquetry. 

'What a handsome caballero! how graceful and well- 
looking ! ' I thought I could read in their flashing glances ; 
and how pleasant was such an imaginary amende for the 
neglect I had suffered hitherto. 

Having commended my beast to the hands of the ostler, 
I entered the inn with all the swaggering assurance of my 
supposed calling, but, in good earnest, with anything but 
an easy heart at the vicinity of Seth and his followers. 
The public room into which I passed was crowded with 
the dealers of the fair, in busy and noisy discussion of 
their several bargains ; and had I been perfectly free of 
all personal anxieties, the study of their various counten- 



CON CREGAN 431 

ances, costumes, and manners, had been most amusing, 
combining as they did every strange nationality — from 
the pale-faced, hatchet-featured New Englander, to the 
full-eyed, swarthy descendant of old Spain; the mongrel 
Frenchman of New Orleans, with the half-breed of the 
prairies, more savage in feature than the Pawnee himself ; 
the shining negro, the sallow Yankee, the Jew from the 
Havannah, and the buccaneerlike sailor, who commanded 
his sloop, and accompanied him as a species of bodyguard 
— were all studies in their way, and full of subject for 
after-thought. 

In this motley assemblage it may easily be conceived 
that I mingled unnoticed, and sat down to my mess of 
' frijoles with garlic ' without even a passing observation. 
As I ate on, however, I was far from pleased by remarking 
that Seth and another had taken their seats at a table 
right opposite, and kept their eyes full on me, with what, 
in better society, had been a most impudent stare. I 
affected not to perceive this, and even treated myself to 
a flask of French wine, with the air of a man revelling in 
undisturbed enjoyment; but all the rich bouquet, all the 
delicious flavour, were lost upon me; the sense of some 
impending danger overpowered all else, and let me look 
which way I would, Seth and his buff-leather jacket, his 
high boots, immense spurs, and enormous horse-pistols, 
rose up before me like a vision. 

I read in the changeful expression of his features the 
struggle between doubt and conviction as to whether he 
had seen me before. I saw what was passing in his mind, 
and I tried a thousand little arts and devices to mystify 
him. If I drank my wine, I always threw out the last 
drops of each glass upon the floor; when I smoked, I 
rolled my cigar between my palms, and patted and 
squeezed it in genuine Mexican fashion. I turned up the 
points of my moustache like a true hidalgo, and played 
Spaniard to the very top of my bent. 

Not only did these airs seem not to throw him off the 



432 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

scent, but I remarked that he eyed me more suspiciously, 
and often conversed in whispers with his companion. 
My anxiety had now increased to a sense of fever, and I 
saw that if nothing else should do so, agitation alone would 
betray me. I accordingly arose* and called the waiter to 
show me to a room. 

It was not without difficulty that one could be had, and 
that was a miserable little cell, whitewashed, and with no 
other furniture than a mattress and two chairs. At least, 
however, I was alone; I was relieved from the basilisk 
glances of that confounded horse-dealer, and I threw my- 
self down on my mattress in comparative ease of mind, 
when suddenly I heard a smart tap at the door, and a 
voice called out, with a very Yankee accent, ' I say, friend, 
I want a word with you.' 

I replied in Spanish, that if any one wanted me, they 
must wait till I had taken my siesta. 

' Take your siesta another time, and open your door at 
once ; or mayhap 1 11 do it myself ! ' 

'Well, sir,' said I, as I threw it open, and feigning a 
look of angry indignation, the better to conceal my fear ; 
'what is so very urgently the matter that a traveller 
cannot take his rest without being disturbed in this 
fashion ? ' 

' Hoity-toity ! what a pucker you 're in, boy ! ' said he, 
shutting the door behind him ; ' and we old friends, too ! ' 

' When, or where, have we ever met before ? ' asked I 
boldly. 

' For the " where " — it was up at Austin, in Texas ; for 
the "when" — something like three years bygone.' 

I shook my head, with a saucy smile of incredulity. 

' Nay, nay, don't push me farther than I want to go, lad. 
Let bygones be bygones, and tell me what 's the price of 
your beast yonder.' 

' I '11 not sell the mustang,' said I stoutly. 

' Ay, but you will, boy, and to me, too ! And it 's Seth 
Chiseller says it ! ' 



CON CREGAN 433 

' No man can presume to compel another to part with 
his horse against his will, I suppose?' said I, affecting a 
coolness I did not feel. 

' There 's many a stranger thing than that happens in 
these wild parts. I 've known many a chap ride away with 
a beast — just without any question at all ! ' 

'That was a robbery!' exclaimed I, in an effort at 
virtuous indignation. 

' It warn't far off from it,' responded Seth ; ' but there 's 
a reward for the fellow's apprehension, and there it be ! ' 
and as he spoke he threw a printed handbill on the table, 
of which all that I could read with my swimming eyes 
were the words, " One Hundred Dollars Reward " — " a 
mare called Charcoal " — " taking the down trail towards 
the San Jose.'" 

' There was no use in carrying that piece of paper so 
far,' said I, pitching it contemptuously away. 

' And why so, lad ? ' asked he, peering inquisitively at me. 

' Because this took place in Texas, and here we are in 
Mexico.' 

'Mayhap in strict law that might be something,' said 
he calmly ; ' but were I to chance upon him, why shouldn't 
I pass a running-knot over his wrists, and throw him 
behind me on one of my horses? Who's to say "You 
shan't?" or who's to stop a fellow that can ride at the 
head of thirty well-mounted lads, with Colt's revolvers at 
the saddle-bow— tell me that, boy ! ' 

'In the first place,' said I, 'the fellow who would let 
himself be taken and slung on your crupper, like a calf for 
market, deserves nothing better, and particularly so long 
as he owned a four-barrelled pistol like this !' — and here I 
drew the formidable weapon from my breast, and held it 
presented towards him, in a manner that it is rarely agree- 
able to confront. 

' Put down your irons, lad,' said he, with the very slightest 
appearance of agitation in his manner, 'we'll come to 
terms without burning powder.' 
13 2e 



434 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

' I ask for nothing better,' said I, putting up my weapon ; 
' but I '11 not stand being threatened.' 

He gave a short dry laugh, as though the conceit of my 
speech amused him, and said, 'Now to business — I want 
that mustang.' 

' You shall have him, Seth,' said I, ' the day he reaches 
Guajuaqualla, whither I am bound in all haste.' 

' I am a-going north,' said Seth gruffly, ' and not in that 
direction.' 

' You can send one of your people along with me to 
fetch him back.' 

' Better to leave him with me now, and take a hack for 
the journey,' said he. This was rather too much for my 
temper, and I ventured to say that he who was to receive 
a present should scarcely dictate the conditions accom- 
panying it. 

' It 's a ransom, boy — a forfeit — not a present,' said he 
gravely. 

1 Let us see if you can enforce it, then,' said I, instinc- 
tively grasping the weapon within my coat breast. 

' There, now, you 're angry again ! ' said he, with his im- 
perturbable smile ; ' if we 're to have a deal together, let us 
do it like gentlemen.' 

Now probably a more ludicrous caricature of that 
character could not have been drawn than either in the 
persons, the manners, or the subject of the transaction in 
hand ; but the word was talismanic, and no sooner had 
he uttered it than I became amenable to his very slightest 
suggestion. 

' Let me have the beast — I want him ; and I see your 
holsters and saddle-bags have a jingle in them that tells 
me dollars are plenty with you ; and as to this ' — he threw 
the piece of paper offering the reward at his feet — 'the 
man who says anything about it will have to account with 
Seth Chiseller — that 's all.' 

' How far is it from this to Guajuaqualla ? ' 

' About a hundred and twenty miles by the regular 



CON CREGAN 435 

road, but there 's a trail the miners follow makes it forty 
less. Not that I would advise you to try that line ; the 
runaway niggers and the half-breeds are always loitering 
about there, and they 're over ready with the bowie-knife, 
if tempted by a dollar or two.' 

Our conversation now took an easy, almost a friendly 
tone. Seth knew the country and its inhabitants per- 
fectly, and became freely communicative in discussing 
them, and all his dealings with them. 

'Let us have a flask of " Aguadente,'" said he, at last, 
( and then we '11 join the fandango in the court beneath.' 

Both propositions were sufficiently to my taste ; and by 
way of showing that no trace of any ill-feeling lingered in 
my mind, I ordered an excellent supper and two flasks of 
the best Amontillado. 

Seth expanded under the influence of the grape into a 
most agreeable companion. His personal adventures had 
been most numerous, and many of them highly exciting ; 
and although a certain Yankee suspiciousness of every man 
and his motives tinged all he said, there was a hearty tone 
of good-nature about him vastly different from what I had 
given him credit for. 

The Amontillado being discussed, Seth ordered some 
Mexican ' Paquaretta,' of delicious flavour, of which every 
glass seemed to inspire one with brighter views of life ; 
nor is it any wonder if my fancy converted the rural 
belles of the courtyard into beauties of the first order. 

The scene was a very picturesque one. A trellised 
passage roofed with spreading vines in full bearing, ran 
around the four sides of the building, in the open space of 
which the dancers were assembled. Gay lamps of painted 
paper and rude pine-torches lit up the whole, and gave to 
the party-coloured and showy costumes an elegance and 
brilliancy which the severer test of daylight might have 
been ungenerous enough to deny. The olive-brown com- 
plexion — the flashing dark eyes — the graceful gestures — 
the inspiriting music — the merry voices — the laughter — 



436 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

were all too many ingredients of pleasure to put into that 
little crucible, the human heart, and not amalgamate into 
something very like enchantment — a result to which the 
Paquaretta perhaps contributed. 

Into this gay throng Seth and I descended like men 
determined, in Mexican phrase, to ' take pleasure by both 
horns.' It was at the very climax of the evening's amuse- 
ment we entered. The dance was the Mexican fandango, 
which is performed in this wise : A lady stepping into the 
circle, after displaying her attractions in a variety of grace- 
ful evolutions, makes the ' tour ' of the party in search of 
the caballero she desires to take as her partner. It is at 
his option either to decline the honour by a gesture of 
deferential humility, or accepting it, he gives her some 
part of his equipment — his hat, his scarf, or his embroidered 
riding-glove, to be afterwards redeemed as a forfeit, the 
great amusement of the scene consisting in the strange 
penalties exacted, which are invariably awarded with a 
scrupulous attention to the peculiar temperament of the 
sufferer. Thus, a miserly fellow is certain to be mulcted 
of his money; an unwieldy mass of fears and terrors is 
condemned to some feat of horsemanship ; a gourmand is 
sentenced to a dish of the least appetising nature, and so 
on: each is obliged to an expiation which is certain to 
amuse the bystanders. While these are the 'blanks' in 
the lottery, the prizes consist in the soft seductive glances 
of eyes that have lost nothing of Castilian fire in their trans- 
planting beyond seas — in the graceful gestures of a partner 
to whom the native dance is like an expressive language, 
and whose motions are more eloquent than words — in 
being, perhaps, the favoured of her whose choice has 
made you the hidalgo of the evening ; and all these, even 
without the aid of Paquaretta, are no slight distinctions. 

Were the seductions less attractive, it is not a man 
whose Irish blood has been set a-glowing with Spanish 
wine who is best fitted to resist them, nor assuredly ought 
Con Cregan to be selected for such self-denial. I stood 



CON CREGAN 437 

in the circle with wondering admiration, delighted with 
everything. Oh happy youth ! glorious hour of the balmy 
night ! excellent grape- juice ! how much of delicious enjoy- 
ment do I owe you all three ! I suppose it is the case with 
every one, but I know it to be with me, that wherever I 
am, or however situated, I immediately single out some 
particular object for my especial predilection. If it be a 
landscape, I at once pitch upon the spot for a cottage, 
a temple, or a villa ; if it be a house, I instantly settle in 
my mind the room I would take as my own, the window I 
would sit beside, the very chair I 'd take to lounge in ; if 
it be a garden, I fix upon the walk among whose 
embowering blossoms I would always be found; and so, 
if the occasion be one of festive enjoyment, I have a 
quick eye to catch her whose air and appearance possess 
highest attractions for me. Not always for me the most 
beautiful — whose faultless outlines a sculptor would like 
to chisel, but one whose fair form and loveliness are 
suggestive of the visions one has had in boyhood, filling 
up, in rich colours, the mind-drawn picture we have so 
often gazed on, and made the heroine of a hundred little 
love-stories, only known to one's own heart. And, oh 
dear ! are not these about the very best of our adventures ? 
At least, if they be not, they are certainly those we look 
back on with fewest self-reproaches. 

In a mood of this kind it was that my eye rested upon 
a slightly formed but graceful girl, whose dark eyes twice 
or thrice had met my own, and been withdrawn again with 
a kind of indolent reluctance — as I fancied — very flattering 
to me. She wore the square piece of scarlet cloth on her 
head, so fashionable among the Mexican peasantry, the 
corners of which hung down with heavy gold tassels 
among the clusters of her raven locks ; a yellow scarf, 
of the brightest hue, was gracefully thrown over one 
shoulder, and served to heighten the brilliancy of her 
olive tint; her jupe, short and looped up with a golden 
cord, displayed a matchless instep and ankle. There was 



438 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

an air of pride— fierte, even — in the position of the foot, 
as she stood, that harmonised admirably with the erect 
carriage of her head, and the graceful composure of her 
crossed arms made her a perfect picture. Nor was I 
quite certain that she did not know this herself; certain 
is it, her air, her attitude, her every gesture, were in the 
most complete keeping with her costume. 

She was not one of the dancers, but stood among the 
spectators, and, if I were to pronounce from the glances 
she bestowed upon the circle, not one of the most 
admiring there — her features either wearing an ex- 
pression of passive indifference, or changing to a half 
smile of scornful contempt. As, with an interest which 
increased at each moment, I watched her movements, 
I saw that her scarf was gently pulled by a hand from 
behind; she turned abruptly, and, with a gesture of 
almost ineffable scorn, said some few words, and then 
moved proudly away to another part of the court. 

Through the vacant spot she had quitted I was able 
to see him who had addressed her. He was a young, 
powerfully built fellow, in the dress of a mountaineer; 
and though evidently of the peasant class, his dress and 
arms evinced that he was well to do in the world. The 
gold drop of his sombrero, the rich bullion tassels of his 
sash, the massive spurs of solid silver, being all evidences 
of wealth. Not even the tan-coloured hue of his dark 
face could mask the flush of anger upon it as the girl 
moved off; and his black eyes, as they followed, glowed 
like fire. To my amazement his glance was next bent 
upon me, and that, with an expression of hatred there 
was no mistaking. At first I thought it might have been 
mere fancy on my part; then, I explained it as the 
unvanished cloud still lingering on his features; but at 
last I saw plainly that the insulting looks were meant 
for myself. Let me look which side I would, let me occupy 
my attention how I might, the fellow's swarthy, sullen 
face never turned from me for an instant. 







CD 



CON CREGAN 439 

I suppose something must have betrayed to my com- 
panion what was passing within me, for Seth whispered in 
my ear, ' Take no notice of him — he 's a Ranchero, and they 
are always bad 'uns to deal with.' 

' But what cause of quarrel can he have with me ? ' said 
I ; ' we never saw each other before.' 

' Don't you see what it is ? ' said Seth ; ' it 's the muchacha, 
she 's his sweetheart, and she 's been a-looking too long this 
way to please him.' 

' Well, if the girl has got such good taste,' said I, with a 
saucy laugh, ' he ought to prize her the more for it.' 

1 She is a neat 'un, that 's a fact,' muttered Seth ; and at 
the same instant the girl walked proudly up to where I 
stood, and making a low curtsy before me, held out her 
hand. I suppose there must have been a little more than 
the ordinary enthusiasm in the manner I pressed my lips 
upon it, for she blushed, and a little murmur ran round the 
circle. The next moment we were whirling along in the 
waltz, I, at least, lost to everything save the proud 
pleasure of what I deemed my triumph. The music 
suddenly changed to the fandango, of which dance I was 
a perfect master ; and now the graceful elegance of my 
partner, and the warm plaudits of the company, called 
forth my utmost exertions. As for her, she was the most 
bewitching representative of her native measure it is 
possible to conceive, her changeful expression following 
every movement of the dance : now retiring in shrinking 
bashfulness, now advancing with proud and haughty mien, 
now enticing to pursuit by looks of languishment, now, 
as if daring all advances, her flashing eyes would almost 
sparkle with defiance. 

What a terrible battery was this to open upon the 
defenceless breastwork of a poor Irishman ! How with- 
stand the showering grape-shot of dark glances ? — how 
resist the assault of graces that lurked in every smile 
and every gesture ! Alas ! I never attempted a defence ; 
I surrendered not ' at,' but ' without,' discretion, and 



440 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

tearing off the great embroidered scarf which I wore, all 
heavy with its gold fringe, I passed it round her taper 
waist in a very transport of enthusiasm. 

While a buzz of approbation ran round the circle, I 
heard the words uttered on all sides, ' Destago ! ' 'A 
forfeit!' 

'I'll try his gallantry,' said the girl, as darting back 
from my arms she retired to the very verge of the 
circle, and holding up the rich prize, gazed at it with 
wondering eyes ; and now, exclamations of praise and 
surprise at the beauty of the tissue broke from all in 
turn. 

' The muchacha should keep the " capotillo," ' said an old 
lynx-eyed duenna, with a fan as large as a fire-board. 

' A caballero rich as that should give her a necklace of 
real pearls,' said another. 

' I 'd choose a mustang, with a saddle and trappings all 
studded with silver,' muttered a third in her ear. 

' I '11 have none of these,' said the girl, musing ; ■ I must 
bethink me well if I cannot find something I shall like 
to look at with pleasure, when mere dress and finery 
would have lost their charm. I must have that which 
will remind me of this evening a long time hence, and 
make me think of him who made its happiness ; and 
now what shall it be ? ' 

' His heart's blood, if that will content you ! ' cried the 
mountaineer, as, springing from his seat, he tore the scarf 
from her hands and dashed it on the ground, trampling it 
beneath his feet, and tearing it to very rags. 

' A fight — a fight ! ' shouted out a number of voices ; and 
now the crowd closed in upon the dancing space, and a 
hundred tongues mingled in wild altercation. Although 
a few professed themselves indignant that a stranger 
should be thus insulted, I saw plainly that the majority 
were with their countryman, whom they agreed in re- 
garding as a most outraged and injured individual. To 
my great astonishment I discovered that my friend Seth 



CON CREGAN 441 

took the same view of the matter, and was even more 
energetic than the others in reprobation of my conduct. 

'Don't you see,' cried he to me, 'that you have taken 
his sweetheart from him? The muchacha has done all 
this to provoke his jealousy.' 

'Oui, oui,' said a thin, miserable-looking Frenchman, 
' vous avez tire le vin ; il f aut payer la bouteille.' 

In all probability, had not the crowd separated us 
most effectually, these comments and counsels had been 
all uttered ' after the fact ' ; for I dashed forward to 
strike my antagonist, and was only held back by main 
force, as Seth whispered in my ear, ' Take it coolly, lad ; 
it must be a fight now, and don't unsteady your hand 
by flying into a passion.' 

Meanwhile the noise and confusion waxed louder and 
louder, and from the glances directed towards me there 
was very little doubt how strongly public opinion pro- 
nounced against me. 

' No, no ! ' broke in Seth — in reply to some speech whose 
purport I could only guess at, for I did not hear the words 
— 'that would be a downright shame. Let the lad have 
fair-play. There's a pretty bit of ground outside the 
garden, for either sword or pistol-work, whichever you 
choose it to be. I '11 not stand anything else.' 

Another very fiery discussion ensued upon this, the end 
of which was that I was led away by Seth and one of his 
comrades to my room, with the satisfactory assurance that 
at the very first dawn of day I was to meet the Mexican 
peasant in single combat. 

'You have two good hours of sleep before you,' said 
Seth, as we entered my room, ' and my advice is, don't lose 
a minute of them.' 

It has been a mystery to me, up to the very hour 
I am writing in, how far my friend Seth Chiseller's 
conduct on this occasion accorded with good faith. 
Certainly, it would have been impossible for any one to 
have evinced a more chivalrous regard for my honour, 



442 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

and a more contemptuous disdain for my life, than the 
aforesaid Seth. He advanced fully one hundred reasons 
for a deadly combat, the results of which, he confessed, 
were speculative matters of a most dreamy indifference. 
Now, although it has almost become an axiom in these 
affairs that there is nothing like a bold decided friend, 
yet even these qualities may be carried to excess. 

There was a vindictiveness in the way he expatiated 
upon the gross character of the insult I had received, the 
palpable openness of the outrage, that showed the liveliest 
susceptibility on the score of my reputation ; and thus it 
came to pass, I suppose, from that spirit of divergence and 
contradiction so native to the human heart, that the 
stronger Seth's argument ran in favour of a most bloody 
retribution, the more ingenious grew my casuistry on the 
side of mercy; till, grown weary of my sophistry, he 
finished the discussion by saying, 'Take your own road, 
then, and if you prefer a stiletto under the ribs to the 
chance of a sabre-cut, it 's your own affair, not mine,' 

' How so ? why should I have to fear such ? ' 

'You don't think that the villano will suffer a fellow 
to take his muchacha from him, and dance with her the 
entire evening before a whole company, without his 
revenge ? No ! no ! they have different notions on that 
score, as you 11 soon learn.' 

' Then what is to be done ? ' 

'I have told you already, and I tell you once more: 
meet him to-morrow; the time is not very distant now. 
You tell me that you are a fair swordsman ; now these 
chaps have but one attack and one guard. I '11 put you up 
to both ; and if you are content to take a slight sabre-cut 
about the left shoulder, I'll show you how to run him 
through the body.' 

'And then?' 

'Why then,' said he, turning his tobacco about in his 
mouth, 'I guess you'd better run for it. There'll be 
no time to lose. Mount your beast, and ride for the 



CON CREGAN 443 

Guajuaqualla road ; but don't follow it long, or you '11 
soon be overtaken. Turn the beast loose, and take to 
the mountains, where, when you've struck the miner's 
track, you '11 soon reach the town in safety.' 

Overborne by arguments and reasons — many of which 
Seth strengthened by the pithy apothegm of ' Bethink ye 
where ye are, boy! This is not England, nor Ireland 
neither ! ' — all my scruples vanished, and I set about the 
various arrangements in a spirit of true activity. The 
time was brief, since, besides taking a lesson in the broad- 
sword, I had to make my will. The reader will probably 
smile at the notion of Con Cregan leaving a testament 
behind him; but the over-scrupulous Seth would have it 
so, and assured me, with much feeling, that it would ' save a 
world of trouble hereafter, if anything were to go a bit ugly.' 

I therefore bequeathed to the worthy Seth my mustang 
and his equipments of saddle, holsters, and cloak-bag ; my 
rifle, and pistols, and bowie-knife were also to become 
his, as well as all my movables of every kind. I only 
stipulated that, in the event of the 'ugly' termination 
alluded to, he would convey the letter with his own hands 
to Guajuaqualla — a pledge he gave with the greater readi- 
ness that a reward was to be rendered for the service. 
There was some seventy dollars in my bag which, Seth 
said, need not be mentioned in the will, as they would 
be needed for the funeral. 'It's costly hereabouts,' said 
he, growing quite lively on the theme. ' They put you in a 
great basket, all decked with flowers, and they sticks two 
big oranges or lemons in your hands ; and the chaps as 
carry you are dressed like devils or angels, I don't much 
know which — and they do make such a cry ! my eye for it, 
but if you wasn't dead, you 'd not lie there long and listen 
to 'em ! ' 

Now, although the subject was not one-half so amusing 
to me as it seemed to Seth, I felt that strange fascination 
which ever attaches to a painful theme, and asked a 
variety of questions about the grave, and the ceremonies, 



444 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

and the masses, reminding my executor that, as a good 
Catholic, I hoped I should have the offices of the Church in 
all liberality. 

' Don't distress yourself about that,' said he, ' I '11 learn 
a lot of prayers in Latin myself — " just to help you on," as 
a body might say ; but, as I live, there goes the chaps to 
the " Molino " ' ; and he pointed to a group of about a dozen 
or more, who, wrapped up in their large cloaks, took the 
way slowly and silently through the tall wet grass at the 
bottom of the garden. 

I have ever been too candid with my kind reader to 
conceal anything from him. Let him not, therefore, I 
beg, think the worse of me, if I own that, at the sight of 
that procession, a strange and most uncomfortable feeling 
pervaded me. There seemed something so purposelike in 
their steady, regular tramp. There was a look of cold 
determination in their movement that chilled me to the 
heart. ' Only to think,' muttered I, ' how they have left 
their beds on this raw, damp morning, at the risk of colds, 
catarrhs, and rheumatism, all to murder a poor young 
fellow who never injured one of them ! ' 

Not a thought had I for the muchacha — the cause of all 
my trouble ; my faculties were limited to a little routine, 
of which I myself was the centre, and I puzzled my brain 
in thinking over the human anatomy, and trying to 
remember all I had ever heard of the most fatal localities, 
and where one could be carved and sliced with the fullest 
impunity. 

' Come along ! ' said Seth, ' we 've no time to lose — we 
must look out for a cheap mustang to wait for you on the 
Guajuaqualla road, and I have to fetch my sword, for this 
thing of yours is full eight inches too short.' Seth now 
took my arm, and I felt myself involuntarily throwing a 
glance at the little objects I owned about the room — as it 
were a farewell look. 

' What are you searching for ? ' said he, as I inserted my 
hand into my breast-pocket. 



CON CREGAN 445 

' It 's all right,' said I ; ' I wanted to see that I had the 
senhora's letter safe. If — if — anything — you understand 
me — eh ? ' 

'Yes, yes; I'll look to it. They shan't bury you with 
it,' said he, with a diabolical grin, which made me 
positively detest him for the moment. 

If Mr. Ohiseller was deficient in the finer sympathies of 
our nature, he was endowed with a rare spirit of practical 
readiness. The mustang was found in the very first 
stable we entered, and hired for a day's pleasure — so he 
called it— for the sum of two crowns. A mountain lad 
was despatched to hold him for my coming, at a certain 
spot on the road. The sabre was fetched from his 
chamber, and in less than five minutes we were on our 
way to the Molino, fully equipped and ' ready for the fray.' 

' Don't forget what I told you about the face guard — 
always keep the hilt of your weapon straight between 
your eyes, and hold the elbow low.' This he kept repeat- 
ing continually as we went along, till I found myself 
muttering the words after him mechanically, without 
attaching the slightest meaning to them. ' The villain is 
a strong muscular chap, and perhaps he '11 be for breaking 
down your guard by mere force, and cleaving you down 
with a stroke. If he tries it, you 've only to spring actively 
to one side and give him your point, anywhere about the 
chest.' From this he proceeded to discuss a hundred little 
subtleties and stratagems the Mexicans are familiar with 
— so that at last I regretted, from the very bottom of my 
soul, that the gage of battle had not fallen upon Seth him- 
self, so much more worthy in every way of the distinction. 

If I seemed full of attention to all he was saying, my 
thoughts, in truth be it spoken, were travelling a vastly 
different road. I was engaged in the performance of a 
little mental catechism, which ran somewhat in this wise : 
' If you escape this peril, Master Con, will it not be wise to 
eschew fandangoes in future ; or, at least, not indulge in 
them with other men's sweethearts ? Beware, besides, of 



446 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

horse-dealers, or Xeres and Paquaretta ; and, above all, of 
such indiscretions as may make the " Seth Chisellers " of 
this world your masters!' Ay, there was the sum and 
substance of my sorrows; that unlucky step about 
Charry and the lottery-ticket placed me in a situation 
from which there was no issue. I now saw, what many 
have seen before, and many will doubtless see again, that 
crime has other penalties besides legal ones, and that the 
difficulty of conforming to an assumed good character, 
with even one lapse from the path of honesty, is very 
considerable. 

' Are you attending to me, lad ? ' cried Seth impatiently. 
' I was telling you about the cross-guard for the head.' 

1 1 have not heard one word of it,' said I frankly ; ' nor 
is it of the least consequence. All the talk in the world 
couldn't make a swordsman, still less would a few passing 
hints like those you give me. If the villano be the better 
man, there 's an end of the matter.' 

Seth, less convinced by my reasonings than offended at 
them, spoke no more, and we approached the Molino in 
silence. As we neared the spot, we perceived the party 
seated in a little arbour, and by their gestures, as well as 
by a most savoury odour of garlic, evidently eating their 
breakfast. 

'The fellows are jolly,' said Seth; 'had we not better 
follow their example? Here is a nice spot, and a table 
just at hand.' At the same time he called out, ' Muchacho, 
pon el vino en la mesa, and we'll think of somewhat to 
eat.' 

I tried to seem indifferent, and at my ease, but it was no 
use. The vicinity of the other group, and, in particular, of 
a certain broad-shouldered member of it, whom I could 
detect through the leaves, and who certainly did not eat 
with the air of a man who felt it to be his last breakfast, 
spoiled all my efforts, and nipped them even as they 
budded. 

' You don't eat,' said Seth ; ' look at the villano yonder.' 



CON CREGAN 447 

1 1 see him,' said I curtly. 

' See how he lays in his prog ! ' 

' Let him show that he can be as dexterous with the 
broadsword as with a carving-knife,' said I, with a 
tremendous effort. 

' Egad ! I'll tell him that,' cried Seth, jumping up and 
hastening across the garden. I had not long to wait for 
the effect of the speech. Scarcely had Chiseller uttered a 
few words than the whole party arose, and such a volley 
of ' Maldicion ! ' and ' Caramba ! ' and other like terms I 
never heard before or since. 

' I knew that would make 'em blaze up,' said he ; 
' they 're all ready now — follow me.' I obeyed, and walked 
after him into a little paddock, which, from the marks of 
feet and other signs, seemed to be a spot not chosen for 
the first time for such an amusement. The others entered 
by an opposite gate, and, taking off their cloaks, folded 
them carefully and laid them on the benches. They were 
armed to the very teeth, and really did look amazingly 
like the troop of brigands Drury Lane would produce in a 
new melodrama. 

One of the party advanced towards Seth to arrange 
preliminaries, while the rest lighted their cigars and 
began smoking — an example I deemed it wise to imitate ; 
at least, it looked cool. 

As I sat, affecting to admire the landscape, and totally 
careless of what was going on behind me, I overheard Seth 
in a warm altercation on the subject of my sabre, which 
the villano's friend insisted was at least eight or nine 
inches too long. Seth, however, was equally obstinate in 
asserting that I had always used it, had fought repeated 
duels with it, and if we could not call the principals as 
witnesses, it was for certain cogent reasons that need not 
be mentioned. How I chuckled at this bit of boastful- 
ness ! how I prayed that it might terrify the enemy ! 
Nothing of the kind : the semi-savage stepped out into the 
circle, with his shirt-sleeves rolled up to the shoulder, 



448 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

displaying an arm whose muscular development was like 
knotted cordage. As if to give a foretaste of what he 
intended for me, he clove down the stout branch of an 
elm-tree with a single stroke, and with the ease of a man 
slicing a cheese. Never did I think so meanly of a 
fandango as at that moment ; never was I in a mood less 
lenient to female coquetry ! 

' All 's ready, Con, my hearty,' whispered Seth, leaning 
over my shoulder ; ' here 's the tool.' 

If I had followed the instinct then strongest, I should 
have treated my ' friend ' Seth to the first of my maiden 

sword. But for him But it was too late for regrets ; 

and already the group had retired, leaving the villano 
standing in a position of formidable defence alone in the 
circle. 

I can remember that I walked calmly and slowly 
forward to the spot assigned me. I can remember the 
word being given to draw swords ; and I even yet can see 
the flashing steel as it glistened, and hear the clang of the 
scabbards as we flung them from us ; but of the encounter 
itself I have only the vaguest impression. Cuts, thrusts, 
parries, advances and retirings, feints and guards, are all 
blended up with the exclamations of the bystanders, as, 
in praise or censure, they followed the encounter. At last, 
without knowing why, after a warm rally, my antagonist 
uttered a faint cry, and tottering a few paces back, let 
fall his sword, and sank heavily to the earth. I sprang 
forward in dread anxiety, but two of the others held me 
back, while they cried out, ' Basta — Basta, senhor ! ' I 
tried to force my way past them, but they held me 
fast ; and all that I could see was one of the group take 
up the villano's arm, and let it go again, when it fell 
heavily to the ground with a dull bang I shall never 
forget ! They then threw his cloak over him, and I saw 
him no more. 

' What are ye waitin' for, lad ? ' whispered Seth. ' You 
don't want to attend his funeral, I reckon ? ' 



CON CREGAN 449 

'Is he — is he ?' I couldn't get the word out for 

worlds. 

' By course he is, and so will you be if ye don't make a 
bolt of it.' 

I have some recollection of an angry altercation between 
Seth and myself — I refusing, and he insisting on my instant 
flight ; but it ended somehow in my finding myself gallop- 
ing along the Guajuaqualla road at a furious pace, and, to 
my extreme surprise, feeling now as eager about my safety 
as before I had been indifferent to it. 

I became conscious of this from the sense of uneasiness 
I experienced as each horseman neared me, and the danger 
of pursuit aroused in me the instinct of self-preservation. 

A rude sign-post at the foot of a rugged mountain-path 
apprised me where the 'miners' trail' led off to Guajua- 
qualla ; so, dismounting from my mustang, now wearied 
and blown by a pretty sharp pace for above seven miles, 
I turned the animal loose, and set off on foot. I know of no 
descent so great in life as from the ' saddle ' to the ' sole ' ! 
from the inspiriting pleasure of being carried along at will, 
to the plodding slowness of mere pedestrianism. In the one 
case you ' shoot your sorrows flying,' in the other, they jog 
alongside of you all the way, halting with you when you 
lie down at noon, and taking share of the spring from 
which your parched lips are refreshed. Like an underbred 
acquaintance, they will not be denied; they are always 
' going your way' ; and in their cruel civility they insist on 
bearing you company. 

At a little cabaret of the very humblest order, I 
obtained some breakfast, and made purchase of a stock 
of bread and a gourd of wine, as I learned that nothing 
was to be had before I reached ' Sanchez,' the hut of an 
old miner, which was reckoned half-way to Guajuaqualla. 
This done, again I set forth on my journey. 

The scenery was wild without being grand. There 
was bareness and desolation, but no sublimity. It was 
evidently a tract of such inferior fertility that few in a 
13 2f 



450 THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 

land so rich as this would select it for a resting-place ; and 
accordingly I came upon no signs of habitation other than 
the shealings the shepherds raise at certain seasons when 
migrating with their flocks among the mountains. 

It was exactly the character of landscape likely to 
increase and thicken the gloom of sad thoughts ; and, 
indeed, mine wanted little assistance. This last exploit 
left a weight like lead upon my heart. All my sophistry 
about self-defence and wounded honour, necessity, and 
the like, could not cover the fact that I had taken away 
a man's life in a foolish brawl, from the very outset of 
which the whole fault lay on my side. 

'So much,' said I, 'for trying to be a "gentleman." 
Every step in this disastrous pursuit would seem to have 
a penalty attached to it ; and, after all, I am just as far 
from the goal as when I set out.' 

That day seemed a year in length ; and were I to attempt 
to chronicle it, the reader would confess himself convinced 
before I had half finished ; so that, for both our sakes, I '11 
not 'file my bill of particulars,' as my respected father 
would have said, but at once come to the hour when the 
sun approached the horizon, and yet not anything like a 
human dwelling came in sight ; and I still plodded along, 
sad and weary, and anxious for rest. If the events which 
I am about to record have little in them of extraordinary 
interest, they at least were the turning-points in my 
humble destiny, and, therefore, kind reader, with your 
permission, we 11 give them a chapter to themselves, 




THE DISCOVERY 

HAD walked now for nearly twelve 
hours without discovering any appearance of Sanchez' 
cabin, in which I had hoped to pass the night. My 
prairie experience assured me that I had not lost the 
'trail,' and yet if any light were burning for miles 
around, the elevated spot on which I stood should 
make it visible. Although much fatigued, there was 
nothing for it but to proceed, and, at length, I found 
myself in a narrow valley, which Seth had heard described 
as the situation in which the miner's hut stood. It was 
dark and gloomy, but the hope that I was nearing 
the spot cheered me, and I walked on, footsore and 
tired as I was. Once or twice I thought I heard the 
bark of a dog. I stopped to listen. I shouted aloud, I 
whistled, but to no end. After an interval, however, the 



452 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

sounds were repeated, and now I could detect — not the 
bark — but the low plaintive wail of an animal seemingly 
in pain. As it not unfrequently happens that the sheep- 
dogs are attacked by wolves, it immediately occurred to 
me such might be the present case, so I looked to the 
caps of my revolver, and hastened on in the direction of 
the cries. 

The wailing sounds grew fuller and louder as I 
advanced, and now I could distinguish that they were 
the cries of an animal in grief, and not of one in bodily 
pain. I increased my speed to the utmost, and suddenly I 
felt the warm tongue of a dog touch my hand, and his tail 
brush my legs, in sign of friendly welcome. I stopped to 
pat and caress him, but the poor creature uttered another 
cry so full of sorrow that all other thoughts were routed 
on the instant. 

He now preceded me, turning at each moment as if to 
see that I followed, and whining in a low faint tone, as 
before. We had not long proceeded thus, when he stopped 
suddenly, and set up a cry the most shrill and heart-thrill- 
ing. I saw that we were in front of a miserable shealing, 
the door of which lay open ; but all was dark within. I 
struck a light with my flint and lighted a little taper. To 
my surprise, the hut contained several articles of furniture ; 
but I had not more than time to notice them, when the 
dog, darting forward, placed his fore-paws upon a low 
settle-bed, and gave a dismal howl. I turned, and beheld 
the figure of a very old man, his white beard hanging down 
to his chest, as he lay in what seemed a heavy sleep. I 
touched him ; he was cold. I placed my hand on his heart ; 
it was still. I tried to detect breathing ; there was none 
— he was quite dead ! 

The poor dog appeared to watch me with intense 
interest, as, one by one, I tried these different signs of 
life ; but when he saw the hand fall heavily from my own, 
he again set up his cries, which now lasted for several 
minutes. The scene was a sad and touching one. The 



CON CREGAN 453 

poor old miner — for such his dress and the scattered 
implements of the craft bespoke him — forgotten by all 
the world save by his dog, lay in all the seeming calm of 
sleep. A cup of water stood near him, and a little wooden 
crucifix lay on the bed, where probably it had fallen from 
his fingers. Everything around betokened great poverty. 
The few articles of furniture seemed as if they had been 
fashioned by himself, being of the rudest workmanship : 
his lamp was a dried gourd, and his one chair had been 
a stump, hollowed out with a hatchet. The most striking 
feature of all was a number of printed paragraphs, cut 
from old newspapers and magazines, and nailed against 
the planking of the hut; and these seemed to convey a 
little history of the old miner, so far, at least, as the bent 
and object of his life were implied. They were all, without 
exception, exaggerated and high-flown accounts of newly 
discovered placers — rich mines of gold — some in the dark 
plains of the Ukraine, some in the deep forests of Mexico, 
some in the interior of Africa, and on the far-away shores 
of the Pacific. Promises of golden harvest, visions of wealth 
rolling in vast abundance, great oceans of gain before the 
parched and thirsting lips of toil and famine ! Little 
thought they who, half in the wantonness of fancy, 
coloured these descriptions, what seeds they were sowing 
in many a rugged nature ! what feverish passions they 
were engendering ! what lures to wile men on and on, 
through youth and manhood and age, with one terrible 
fascination to enslave them ! 

If many of these contained interesting scraps of 
adventure and enterprise in remote and strange countries, 
others were merely dry and succinct notices of the dis- 
covery of gold in particular places, announcements which 
nothing short of an innate devotion to the one theme 
could possibly have dwelt upon; and these, if I were to 
judge from the situations they occupied, were the most 
favoured paragraphs, and those most frequently read 
over : they were the daily food with which he fed his 



454 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

hope, through, doubtless, long years of suffering and toil. 
It was the oil which replenished the lamp when the wick 
had burned to the very socket ! 

How one could fancy the old gambusino as he sat 
before his winter fire, half dozing in the solitude of his 
uncompanionable existence, revelling in all the illusions 
with which his mind was filled! With what sympathy 
must he have followed his fellow-labourers in every far- 
away quarter of the globe! how mourned over their 
disappointments, how exulted in their successes! These 
little scraps and sentences were the only links that tied 
him to the world — they were all that spoke to him of his 
own species ! 

As I went about the hut, the appearance of the greatest 
poverty and privation struck me on every side : his cloth- 
ing, worn to very tatters, had been mended by skins of 
beasts and patches of canvas; the tools with which he 
worked showed marks of rude repair, that proved how ' he 
to himself sufficed,' without aid from others. 

I passed the night without sleep, my mind full of the 
melancholy picture before me. When day broke, I walked 
forth into the cool air to refresh myself, and found, to my 
astonishment, that the spot had been a placer of once 
great repute, at least so the remains around attested. The 
ruined framework of miners' huts — the great massive 
furnaces for smelting — huge cradles, as they are called, 
for gold sifting — long troughs, formed of hollowed trunks, 
for washing — lay scattered on all sides. The number of 
these showed what importance the spot had once possessed, 
and the rotten condition in which they now were proved 
how long it had been deserted by all save him, who was 
now to take his rest, where, for many a weary year, he 
had toiled and laboured. 

A little cross, decorated with those insignia of torture 
so frequently seen in Catholic countries — the pincers, the 
scourge, and the crown of thorns — showed where Piety 
had raised an altar beside that of Mammon, and under- 



CON CREGAN 455 

neath this I resolved to lay the poor old gambusino's 
bones, as in a Christian grave. I could not divest my 
mind of the impression, that some power, higher than 
mere chance, had led me to the spot, to perform those last 
offices to the poor outcast. Having eaten my breakfast, 
which I shared with the dog, I set to work to fashion 
something that should serve as a coffin. There was timber 
in abundance, and the old miner's tools sufficed for all I 
needed. My labour, however, was only completed as night 
closed in, so that I was obliged to wait for morning to 
finish my task. 

Wearied by my exertions, I slept soundly, and never 
awoke till the bright sunbeams pierced through the chinks 
of the log-hut, and streamed in amidst its dusky atmo- 
sphere ; then I arose and placed the old man in his coffin. 
I sat down beside it, and, as I looked at the calm, cold 
features, I could not help reflecting that even he had not 
been more an outcast from his fellows than I was myself. 
If fate had cast his lot in the solitude of this dreary region, 
he was not more alone in the world than I, who had 
neither home nor family. How strange was it, too, that 
it should have devolved upon me to pay him these last 
rites. No — no— this could not be accident. The longer 
I dwelt upon this theme, the more strongly was I im- 
pressed by this one conviction ; and now, looking back, 
after the lapse of years, that feeling is but more confirmed 
by time. 

Taking the shovel and the pick, I set forth to dig the 
grave, the poor dog following at my heels, as though 
knowing in what cause I was labouring. The earth was 
hard and stony, so that at first I made but little progress, 
but soon I reached a clayey, soft soil, which again was 
succeeded by a dense, firm stratum of stones, impacted 
closely together, like a pavement made by hands ; indeed 
it was difficult to conceive it otherwise, the stones being 
so nearly of the same size, and laid down with a regu- 
larity so striking and purposelike. I proceeded to loosen 



456 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

them with the barreta, but, to my surprise, no sooner 
had I displaced this layer than another exactly similar 
displayed itself underneath. If this be 'Nature's handi- 
work,' thought I, ' it is the strangest thing I ever saw.' I 
laboured hard to remove this second tier, and now came 
down upon a light gravelly soil, into which the barreta 
passed easily. Shall I own that it was with a sense of 
disappointment that I perceived this ? It was not that my 
expectations had taken any distinct or palpable form, but 
their vagueness somehow had not excluded hope ! 

As I struck down the iron barreta into the light earth, 
I sat down and fell into a musing fit, from which the dog 
aroused me by licking my hands, and looking up into my 
face, as though reproaching me for deserting my task. I 
arose at once, and set to work in right earnest. The grave 
was now full five feet in depth, and needed only to be 
made a little longer. It was after about an hour's hard 
labour, and my task was all but completed, when the 
barreta struck a stone which it was requisite to move ; 
it was a large and heavy one, and much more firmly 
impacted in the earth than I at first supposed, and it was 
only by splintering it with the iron ' crow ' that I was able 
to succeed. As I lifted the fragments and threw them 
away, my hands came in contact with a soft substance 
underneath, that, to the feel at least, resembled the skin 
of a beast with the wool or hair on. I cleared away the 
earth, and saw, to my astonishment, what I at once knew 
to be a piece of buffalo-hide, smeared over with a peculiar 
oil the Indians use to prevent rotting or decomposition. 
I drew forth my knife and ripped it open ; a strong skin 
of undressed buck was now laid bare ; again I applied my 
knife vigorously to this, and as the sharp steel ran freely 
along, a glittering heap of gold disclosed itself before me, 
and rolled in fragments to my feet ! 

I cannot attempt to describe the emotions of that 
moment, as, with a heart bursting with delight, I ran 
my fingers through the heaps of shining metal, many of 



CON CREGAN 457 

them larger than my closed fist. I pulled off my cap and 
filled it ; I opened my handkerchief, and in a few moments 
that also was crammed ; I stuffed my pockets, but the 
treasure seemed inexhaustible. I arose, and hastened to 
the hut for the great canvas bag in which the poor miner 
used to keep his chestnuts, and oh ! the terror that came 
over me now, lest I should be seen, lest any other should 
discover me. With the speed that fear alone can supply 
I soon filled the sack, not alone with gold, but also with 
several little leather bags, which I discovered contained 
gems and precious stones, emeralds principally, with opals, 
sapphires, and rubies, some of a size and colour I had 
never seen equalled before. There were eight of these 
bags marked with some enigmatical letters, of which I 
did not know the meaning, nor, in good truth, did I puzzle 
myself to discover. The wealth, unbounded as it seemed, 
needed no explanation ; there it lay glittering upon the 
grass beneath the morning sun, and there I sat amidst 
it, as Aladdin might have sat amidst the treasures of his 
mine. 

As I opened the bags one after another, in eager 
impatience, I came upon one filled with papers, and these 
I quickly discovered were receipts for deposits of large 
sums placed at various times in the hands of Don Xafire 
Hijaros, banker, at Guajuaqualla, by Menelaus Crick ! 

Yes, these were the hidden treasures for which the 
Black Boatswain of Anticosti had endured the tortures of 
the burning iron and the steel, the terrible agonies of the 
flesh pincers, and the slow, lingering pains of paralysis. 
These, then, were the visions that haunted his dotage in 
the very night I had seen him, as he struggled in some 
imaginary conflict, and patted the ground in some fancied 
act of concealment ! A sudden chill ran through me as I 
thought by what horrible deeds of crime and blood all 
this treasure might — nay, must — have been amassed ! 
what terrible acts of murder and assassination! Many 
of the gems were richly set, and showed that they had 



458 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

been worn. Some of the emeralds had been extracted 
from ornaments, or taken from the hilts of daggers or 
swords. Violence and blood had stained them all! there 
could not be a doubt of it. And now there arose within 
me a strange conflict, in which the thirst for wealth 
warred with a feeling of superstition, that whispered, 
' No luck could go with gain so bought ! ' The perspiration 
rolled in great drops down my face ; my heart swelled and 
throbbed with its emotions ; the arteries of my temples 
beat with a force that seemed to smite the very brain, as 
I canvassed this vital question, 'Dare I touch wealth so 
associated with deeds of infamy ? ' 

If my wishes arranged themselves on one side, all my 
fears were marshalled on the other, and what foes can 
wage a more terrible conflict! The world, with its most 
attractive pleasures, its thousand fascinations, all the 
delusions that gold can buy, and convert into realities, 
beckoned here. Horrible fancies of an unknown ven- 
geance, a Nemesis in crime unexpiated, menaced there ! 
May I never have to preside in a court where the evidence 
is so strongly opposed, where the facts are so equally 
balanced ! If, at one instant, I beheld myself the gorgeous 
millionaire, launching forth into the wide ocean of unex- 
plored enjoyment, at the next I saw myself crawling upon 
the earth, maimed and crippled like the old negro slave, 
a curse upon me, the cries of widowed mothers ringing 
in my ears, the curses of ruined fathers tracking me 
wherever I went! I cannot tell what verdict my poor 
impannelled conscience might have brought in at last; 
but suddenly a new witness appeared in the court, and 
gave a most decided turn to the case. This was no less 
than ' the Church,' whose testimony gently insinuated that 
if the matter were one of difficulty, it was not yet without 
a solution. ' It is true, Master Con,' whispered she, ' that 
these treasures have an odour of rapine, but let us see if 
the Church cannot purify them. A silver lamp to the 
Virgin can throw a lustre upon deeds that have not 



CON CREGAN 459 

" loved the light." An embroidered petticoat can cover a 
great many small sins ; and the incense that rises from a 
gold censer, offered by pious hands, will do much to 
correct the pungency of even the saltest tears. Build a 
chapel, Con ; endow a nunnery ! ' 

What a revulsion did this bright thought give to all 
my previous doubtings ! not only satisfying my scruples 
here, but suggesting very comfortable associations for 
hereafter. By this proceeding, Con, thought I, you are 
' hedging against hereafter ' ; you may be a Sardanapalus 
while you live, and a saint after death : it 's betting upon 
the ' double event,' with all the odds in your favour. 

I must say, for the sake of my credit, that I resolved to 
' do the thing handsomely ' ; and I determined that if a 
' Saint Cregan ' could be discovered in the catalogue, I 'd 
adopt him as my patron, at any cost; neither would I 
forget the poor old miner in my pious offerings ; he should 
have masses said for him for a full twelvemonth to come, 
and I 'd offer a silver pick-axe to any of the calendar who 
would deign to accept it. In a word, there was nothing 
that money could do (and what can it not do?) that I 
would not engage to perform, so that the Church should 
consent to take me into partnership. 

Never was a poor head exposed to such a conflict of 
discordant thought. Plans of pleasures and pilgrimages ; 
gorgeous visions of enjoyment, warring with fancies of 
sackcloth and scourges ; sumptuous dinners, equipages, 
theatres, balls, and festivities, mingling with fastings, 
processions, and mortifications, made up a chaos only a 
shade above downright insanity. 

The day wore on, and it was late in the afternoon ere I 
bethought me of the poor gambusino, beside whose open 
grave I still sat, lost in speculation. ' Poor fellow ! ' said I, 
as I hoisted his coffin on my shoulder, ' you have got a rich 
pall-bearer for one who died in such poverty; you little 
thought you would be borne to the grave by a millionaire!' 
As I said this — I shame to own it — there was a tinge of 



460 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

self-commendation in the notion, as though inferring — 
* See what a noble fellow I am ! with gold and gems such 
as an emperor might envy ; and yet look at me, carrying 
a poor old miner's body to the grave, just as if we were 
equals ! ' 

' It 's very handsome of you, Con — that I must say ! ' 
whispered I to myself; but, somehow, the poor dog did 
not appear to take the same exalted notion of my magna- 
nimity, but was entirely engrossed by his sorrow ; for he 
lay crouching upon the earth, uttering cries the most 
piteous and heart-rending at each shovelful I threw in 
the grave. 

' Cheer up, poor fellow ! ' said I, patting him, ' you shall 
have a gold collar, and a clasp of real emerald.' How 
naturally does a rich man recur to wealth as the cure for 
every affliction! How difficult for him to believe that 
gold is not a sovereign remedy for all disorders. 

As for the dog, poor brute ! he took no more heed of 
my consolation than he noticed my altered condition — of 
which, by his familiarity, he showed himself totally uncon- 
scious. How differently had he behaved, thought I, had 
he been a man ! What sudden respect had he felt for me 
— what natural reluctance to obtrude himself on me — how 
honoured by my notice — how distinguished by my favour ! 
It is plain the dog is a very inferior animal; his percep- 
tions are not fine enough to distinguish between the man 
of wealth and the pauper ! 

These and very similar reflections engaged me while I 
completed my task, after which I carried my precious 
burthens off, and deposited them within the hut. By this 
time I was very hungry, but had nothing to eat save the 
fragments that remained from my breakfast — a singular 
meal for one who, in a fitting place, could have dined 
sumptuously, and off vessels of gold and silver ! I had the 
appetite of a poor man, however, and ate heartily; and 
then, taking my gourd of wine, sat down beside a little 
spring that issued from the rock to think over my future. 



CON CREGAN 461 

Perhaps my whole life — not wanting in hours of 
pleasure and enjoyment — never presented anything so 
truly delightful as that evening. 

The season of gratification which I had dreamed of, 
sighed, panted, and prayed for, was now to be mine. I 
was at last to be a ' gentleman,' so far, at least, as immense 
wealth and a very decided taste for spending it could 
make me. But were these, I flatteringly asked myself, all 
my qualifications? Was I not master of three or four 
languages ? Had I not become an expert shot, an excellent 
rider, a graceful dancer, with some skill upon the guitar 
and the mandolin ? Could I not contend in most exercises 
where strength and activity were required with any? 
Had I not travelled and seen something of the world and 
its ways ? Ay, marry, and a little more of both than was 
usual for young gentlemen of fortune ! 

Of personal advantages it might not become me to 
speak ; but the truth requires me to say that nature had 
dealt very handsomely by me. And now, I ask of the fair 
reader — the unfair one I put out of court on the occasion 
— 'are not these very pretty chances with which to woo 
fortune ? ' Less sanguine spirits would perhaps have 
sighed for more, and asked for a hundred gifts of whose 
use and value I knew nothing — such as birth, family 
influence, and the like. As for me, I was content with 
the ' hand of trumps ' Fate had dealt me ; I owned frankly, 
that if I lost the game, it must be for lack of skill, and 
not of luck. 

My plans were very simple. Once at Guajuaqualla, I 
should find out where Donna Maria de los Dolores lived, 
and then, providing myself with a suitable equipage and 
servants, I should proceed to pay my addresses in all form, 
affecting to have resumed my real rank and station, from 
which on our first acquaintance a passing caprice had 
withdrawn me. I anticipated, of course, very shrewd 
inquiries as to my family and fortune ; but I trusted to 
f native wit ' to satisfy these, secretly resolving at the time 



462 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

that I would avoid lying for the future; and apropos of 
this propensity, I had never indulged in it save from that 
vagrant impulse that tempts a child to scamper over the 
flower-plat of a garden instead of keeping to the gravel — 
the great charm being found in the secret that it 'was 
wrong.' And, oh, ye dear, good, excellent souls whose 
instincts are always correct, who can pass knockers on 
doors and not wish to wring them off ! — who see gas-lamps 
in lonely spots, and never think of breaking them; who 
neither ' humbug ' the stupid nor mystify the vain ; who 
' take life ' seriously — forgive the semi-barbarism of our 
Celtic tastes, which leads us to regard ' fun ' as the very 
honey of existence, and leads us to extract it from every 
flower in life's path ! 

When I ' lied ' — as only the great ' Pinto ' ever lied more 
atrociously — I was more amused by my own extrava- 
gances than were my listeners. I threw out my inventions 
among stupid folk, as a rich man flings his guinea among 
a group of beggars, to enjoy the squabbling and contend- 
ing for such an unlooked-for prize. 

And now I was going to abandon the habit, as one 
unsuited to the responsibilities of a rich man's station! 
Oh dear, what a sigh honest Jack Falstaff* must have 
heaved when he swore 'he would eschew sack and low 
company and live cleanly.' 

I now addressed myself more practically to my work, 
and, seeing that it would be quite impossible for me to 
carry the great bulk of my treasure to Guajuaqualla, I 
replaced the canvas sack, with the gold, and some of the 
largest bags of the gems, in the ground, and merely took 
those that contained the paper securities, and some of 
the more valuable emeralds, along with me. 

In parting with my wealth, even for a short absence, 
I confess my feelings were very poignant. A thousand 
fears beset me, and I turned to survey the spot beneath 
which it lay, wondering if there was any indication to 
mark the concealed riches below. All, however, looked 



CON CREGAN 463 

safe and plausible, and I proceeded on my way, with a 
heart as easy as, I suppose, rich men's hearts are permitted 
to be. 

I believe the road along which I journeyed lay in the 
midst of a fertile and pleasing tract — I believe, I say, 
for I own I saw nothing of it. The river along which I 
walked seemed silver, molten silver to me ; the fruit-trees 
bore apples of pure gold ; the stars which studded the 
morning sky seemed sapphires and diamonds ; the dew- 
drops on the grass were opals all. If I sat down to rest 
myself, I instantly took one of my precious bags from 
my pocket, to gaze at the bright treasures it contained, 
and feast my eyes with brilliancy. 

At last I found myself on the great highroad, and as 
the sign-post told me, only tres leguas — three leagues — 
from Guajuaqualla. For a few copper coins I obtained a 
seat upon a peasant's carro, and journeyed along more 
agreeably, secretly laughing to myself at the strange con- 
veyance that carried ' Caesar and his fortunes.' 

The peasant was an old man, who lived by selling 
water-melons, gourds, and cucumbers in the city, and 
knew most of its well-known inhabitants. It was there- 
fore a good opportunity for me to learn something of 
those in whom I was interested. He told me that the 
banker, Don Xafire Hijaros, had died several years ago, 
but that his son Manuel carried on the business, and was 
reputed to be the richest man in Guajuaqualla. It was 
said that the great wealth of the house had been accu- 
mulated in ways and by means that would not bear too 
close scrutiny. Large sums had been, it was alleged, 
lodged in his hands by negroes and Indians, working 
at the mines, the owners of which were often made away 
with — at least, few of those who made large deposits 
ever lived to claim them. The peasant told me several 
stories in illustration of this suspicion ; but although they 
certainly did make an impression upon me, I attributed 
much to the exaggeration so common to every piece of 



464 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

local gossip, arid I had seen enough in the world to 
know how frequently successful industry meets dispar- 
agement. 

As for Don Estaban Olarez, the old man told me that 
he had once been extremely rich, but that certain specula- 
tions he had entered into, having proved unfortunate, 
he had lost the greater part of his fortune, and lived now 
in a state of comparative retirement about a league from 
Guajuaqualla. This piece of news had not the depressing 
effect upon me it might be supposed, since I augured that 
a rich son-in-law would be less scrupulously interrogated 
by the broken merchant than by the millionaire. I even 
speculated on the manner I should adopt to dazzle him by 
my splendour, and with what cold and cutting irony I 
would address the Fra Miguel, and thank him for the 
considerate kindness with which he had repaid my services. 
Haughty and proud, with a dash of condescension, 'that 
must be my tone,' said I ; and so I went on, like my proto- 
type in the Eastern tale, ruminating upon my power and 
my merciful disposition, till I had warmed my blood to a 
very good tyrant pitch, from which state I was aroused by 
the guard at the gate of the town, asking if I had any- 
thing with me which should pay custom. 

' A poor traveller with his knapsack,' said I, ' may surely 
pass freely.' 

' Vaya con Dios,' said he carelessly, and I entered the 
city. 

Although the little plain in which Guajuaqualla stands 
is more favourable as a site than the narrow gorge where 
Chehuahua is situated, the city itself is inferior to the 
latter. Built irregularly, not only as chance or caprice 
directed, but sharing in all the vicissitudes of speculation 
which the mines afforded, great palaces stand by the side 
of mean hovels, and gorgeous churches are flanked by 
abodes of squalid poverty. Streets, properly speaking, 
there were none, each choosing the spot for his house 
at will; and as the city was founded in troubled times, 



CON CREGAN 465 

when lawless violence was unrestrained, the fortresslike 
character of the buildings was often conspicuous. Massive 
iron bars and stanchions protected the windows of the 
ground-floors — heavy fastenings secured the doors, whose 
surface was a fretwork of iron. Loopholes for musketry, 
usually guarded each side of the entrance, and a grille, 
like that of a convent, showed that no stranger could be 
admitted uninterrogated. Many of the houses were sur- 
rounded by regular outworks of moat and bastion, while 
here and there an old rusty cannon, half hid among the 
weeds, would show more pretentious, though possibly not 
very efficient means of defence. 

Of shrines, holy wells, and altars, there was no end. 
The superstitious character of the gambusino life had 
been adroitly laid hold of by the priests, who rarely fail 
to turn each phase of existence to their own profit, and, 
in this spot, the priestly hierarchy appeared to have 
nothing so near at heart as the success of the placers. 
Here were pictured virgins, looking blandly down at a 
group of very ill-favoured half-breeds at a washing ; there 
was an old negro, presenting a massive lump of gold to 
St. Joseph, who, with a sly look, seemed to promise not 
to forget the donor. St. Francis himself, pick in hand, 
was seen labouring at the head of a sturdy gang of 
workmen, and angels of all sizes appeared to busy them- 
selves in gold seeking, as though it were their natural 
pastime. 

Upon several of the altars, pieces of solid gold and 
silver lay, in a security that said much for the religious 
zeal of the inhabitants, while lamps of pure silver hung 
in a profusion on every side, surrounded by votive offer- 
ings of the same metal — such as shovels, barretas, picks, 
and sieves. Nor did piety limit itself merely to incentives 
to ' stand well with the saints ' ; some most terrible 
examples of the opposite line of conduct were conspicu- 
ously displayed. Pictures, representing dreadful catas- 
trophes, by falling masses of rock, irruptions of torrents, 
13 2g 



466 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

and down - pouring cataracts, showed what fates were 
in store for those who 'forgot the Church.' And, as if 
to heighten the effect, whenever a cayman or a jaguar was 
'sloping off' with a miner in his mouth, a respectable 
saint was sure to be detected in the offing, wiping his 
eyes in compassion, but not stirring a finger to his 
assistance. 

I will not say that these specimens of pictorial piety 
induced any strong religious feeling to my mind, but they 
certainly amused me highly, and although hungry from 
a long fast, I stopped full twenty times on my way to 
the Posada to gaze and wonder at them. 

At the ' Mono ' (the ' Ape '), a beast, which, at first I 
mistook for a certain historical character, to whom 
popular prejudice always vouchsafes a tail, I put up, 
and having discussed a very sumptuous breakfast, sent 
for the landlord, a little dark-visaged Jew from Per- 
nambuco. 

' I hear,' said I, arranging myself in an attitude of 
imposing elegance, ' I hear, Sefihor Maestro, that my 
people and equipages have not arrived yet, and I begin 
to feel a great anxiety for their safety. Can you learn 
from any of the muleros if they have seen two carriages, 
with four mules each, on the Chehuahua road ? ' 

' I have just inquired,' said the Jew, with a sly, almost 
impertinent leer, ' and his Excellency's suite have not been 
seen.' 

' How provoking ! ' said I impatiently ; ' this comes 
of indulging that capricious taste for adventure which 
always inclines me to a solitary ramble among mountains ; 
and now, here I am, without clothes, baggage, horses, 
servants — in fact, with nothing that a person of my con- 
dition is accustomed to have about him.' 

The Jew's face changed its expression during this 
speech, and from a look of droll malice, which it wore at 
first, assumed an air of almost open insolence, as he 
said — 



CON CREGAN 467 

■ Serihor Viajador, I am too old to be imposed upon by 
these fooleries. The traveller who enters an inn on his 
feet, with ragged clothes and tattered shoes, takes too 
high a flight when he raves of equipage and followers.' 

I bethought me of the lesson I once gave the mate of 
the transport ship at Quebec, and I lay back indolently 
in my chair, and stared coolly at the Jew. ' Son of 
Abraham,' said I, with a slow intonation, ' take care what 
you say. I indulge in a vast variety of caprices, some 
of which the severe world calls follies ; but there is one 
which I never permit myself — namely, to suffer the 
slightest liberty on the part of an inferior. I give you 
this piece of information for your guidance, since it is 
possible that business with the banker Don Manuel Hijaros 
may detain me a few days in this place, and I desire that 
the lesson be not lost upon you.' 

The Jew stood while I delivered these words a perfect 
picture of doubt and embarrassment. The pretentious 
tone, contrasted with the ragged apparel — the air of 
insufferable pride, with all the semblance of poverty, and 
the calm composure of confidence, seemed to him singular 
features in one whose apparent destitution might have 
suggested humility. 

' I see your embarrassment,' said I, ' and I forgive your 
error ; and now to business. I have several visits to pay 
in this neighbourhood ; my people may not arrive for a 
day or two, and I cannot afford the delay of waiting for 
them. Can you tell if there be anything suitable in the 
way of equipage for a man of rank to be had here? Some- 
thing simple, of course, as befitting the place — a plain 
carriage, with four mules — if Andalusian, all the better; 
two lazadores, or outriders, will be sufficient, as I wish 
to avoid display ; the liveries and equipment may be 
plain also.' 

'There is at this moment, serihor, the open carriage 
of the late Gobernador of Guajuaqualla to be sold ; he 
had not used it when he was called away by death ; that 



468 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

and his six mules — not Andalusian, it is true, but of the 
black breed of the Havannah, are now at your Excellency's 
disposal.' 

' And the price,' said I, not seeming to notice the half- 
impertinent smile that curled his lip as he spoke. 

'Three thousand crowns, senhor — less than half their 
cost.' 

1 A mere trifle,' said I carelessly, ' if the carriage please 
me.' 

' Your Excellency can see it in the court beneath.' 

I followed the Jew as he led the way into the open 
cour, and, after passing across it, we entered a spacious 
building, where, amidst a whole hospital of ruined and 
dilapidated caleches, carres, and waggons, stood a most 
beautiful -britzska, evidently imitated from some London 
or Parisian model. It was of a dark chocolate colour, 
with rich linings of pale-blue silk. The arms of the late 
Gobernador were to have been painted on the doors, but 
fortunately were not begun when he died, so that the 
carroza seemed in every respect a private one. The Jew 
next showed me the team of mules, magnificent animals of 
fifteen and a half hands in height, and in top condition. 
The harness and housings were all equally splendid and 
suitable. 

' If your Excellency does not deem them unworthy of 
you,' said he, with a smile of most treacherous meaning, 
'they are certainly a great bargain. I have myself 
advanced fifteen hundred piastres upon them.' 

'I'll take them,' said I curtly; 'and now for the 
servants.' 

' The coachman and a few lackeys are here still, your 
Excellency ; but their liveries had not been ordered when 
the sad event occurred.' 

'Send the first tailor in the place to my apartment,' 
said I ; ' and if there be a diamond merchant, or a gem 
valuer here, let him come also.' 

' I am myself a dealer in precious stones, your Excel- 



CON CREGAN 469 

lency,' replied the Jew, with a more submissive air than 
he had yet exhibited. 

* Come with me, then,' said I ; * for I always carry some 
of my less valuable trinkets about with me, as the least 
cumbrous mode of taking money.' Leaving the landlord 
in the sitting-room, I passed into my chamber, and speedily 
re-entered with a handsome emerald ring upon my finger, 
and a ruby brooch of great size in my breast. 

The Jew's eyes were lit up with a lustre only inferior to 
that of the gems as he saw them, and, in a voice tremulous 
with eagerness, he said, ' Will your Excellency dispose of 
these ? ' 

' Yes,' said I carelessly ; ' there are others also which I 
am determined to turn into cash. What value would you 
put upon this ring ? ' 

' Five hundred crowns, senhor, if it be really as pure as 
it seems.' 

' If that be your valuation, friend,' rejoined I, ' I would 
be a purchaser, not a seller, in this city. That gem cost me 
six thousand piastres ! To be sure, something of the price 
must be laid to the charge of historical associations. It 
was the present of the Sultan Al Hadgid ak Meerun-al- 
Roon, to the Empress Matilda.' 

1 Six thousand piastres ! ' echoed the Jew, whose 
astonishment stopped short at the sum, without any 
regard for the great names I had hurled at him. ' I 
believe I may have paid a trifle too much,' said I, smiling ; 
'the Prince of Syracuse thought it dear. But then here 
is a much more valuable stone, which only cost as 
much ' ; and so saying, I took from my pocket an immense 
emerald, which had once formed the ornament of a 
dagger. 

' Ah, Dios ! that is fine,' said the Jew, as he held it 
between him and the light ; ' and were it not for the flaw, 
would be a rare prize ! ' 

' Were it not for the flaw, friend,' said I, ' it would still 
be where it stood for upwards of eight hundred years — in 



470 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

the royal crown of Hungary — in the " Schatz-Kammer " of 
Presburg. The Emperor Joseph had it mounted in his 
own poniard; from his hands it reached the Calton's of 
Auersberg, and then, at the value of six thousand piastres, 
by a wager, came into my own.' 

' And at what price would you now dispose of it ?' asked 
he timidly. 

' A friend might have it for ten thousand,' said I calmly ; 
' to the world at large the price would be twelve.' 

' Ah, your Excellency ! such sums rest not in our 
humble city! You must go to Madrid or Grenada for 
wealth like that.' 

'So I suspect,' said I coolly. 'I will content myself 
with depositing them with my banker for the present ; to 
sell them here would be a needless sacrifice of them.' 

' And yet, senhor, I would willingly be the purchaser of 
that gem,' said he, as he stood, fascinated by the lustre of 
the stone, from which he could not take his eyes. ' If six 
thousand five hundred piastres ' 

' I have said ten to a friend, my honest Israelite,' inter- 
rupted I. 

'I am but a poor man, your Excellency — a poor, 
struggling, hard-working man — content if he but gain 
the humblest profit by his labour ; say, then, seven 
thousand piastres, and I will sell my mules to make up 
the amount.' 

'I will say twelve, and not a doubloon less, "Senhor 
Judio," but a friend may have it for ten.' 

' Ah ! if your " Alteza " would but say eight. Eight 
thousand piastres counted down upon the table in honest 
silver,' said he, and the tears stood in his eyes as he 
supplicated. 

' Be it so,' said I, ' but upon one condition. Should you 
ever reveal this, or should you speak of the transaction in 
any way, there is no manner of evil and mischief I will not 
work you. If it costs me half my fortune, I will be your 
ruin ; for I refused to part with that same to the Primate 



CON CREGAN 471 

of Seville, and he would never forgive me if the story- 
should reach his ears.' 

The Jew wished the Patriarchs to witness his oath 
of secrecy, and though each of us was well aware that 
the other was lying, somehow we seemed satisfied by the 
exchange of our false coinage. I suppose we acted on the 
same principle as the thieves who could not keep their 
hands out of each other's pockets, although they knew 
well there was nothing there. 

Whatever the Jew's suspicion of the means by which I 
had become possessed of such wealth, he prudently thought 
that he might reap more profit by falling in with my plans 
than by needlessly scrutinising my character ; and, so far, 
he judged wisely. 

The contract for the carriage I completed on the spot, 
and having engaged the servants and ordered their liveries 
— plain suits of brown with gold tags, aiguillettes — I gave 
directions for my own wearing apparel, in a style of costly 
magnificence that confirmed me in the title of ' Alteza,' 
given by all who came in contact with me. These occupa- 
tions occupied the entire morning, and it was only late in 
the afternoon that I had spare time to recreate myself 
by a walk in the garden of the inn before dinner — a 
promenade which, I am free to own, was heightened in 
its enjoyment by the rich rustling sounds of my heavy 
silk robe de chambre, and the soft downy tread of my 
velvet slippers on the smooth turf. It was a delicious 
moment ! the very birds seemed to sing a little paean of 
rejoicing at my good-luck; the flowers put forth their 
sweetest odours as I passed, and I felt myself in ecstasy 
with the whole creation, and in particular with that 
segment of it called Con Cregan. And there be folk in 
this world would call this egotism and vanity ; ay, and by 
worse names too! As if it was not the very purest 
philanthropy — as if my self-content did not spring from 
the calm assurance that the goods of fortune were 
bestowed in the right direction, and that the goddess 



472 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

whom men call ' fickle ' was in reality a most discriminat- 
ing deity ! 

There are no two things in creation less alike than a 
rich man and a poor one. Not only do all their thoughts, 
feelings, and affections run in opposite channels, but their 
judgments are different; and from the habit of presenting 
particular aspects to the world, they come at last to 
conform to the impressions conceived of them by the 
public. The eccentricities of wealth are exalted into 
fashions — the peculiarities of poverty are degraded to 
downright vices. 

' Oh, glorious metal ! ' exclaimed I, as I walked along, 
'that smooths the roughest road of life, that makes the 
toughest venison savoury, and renders the rudest associates 
civil and compliant ! What insolence and contumely had I 
not met with here, in this poor " Posada," had I only been 
what my humble dress and mean exterior denoted ! And 
now, what is there that I cannot exact — what demands can 
I make, and hear that they are impossible ? ' 

' His Excellency's dinner is served,' said the host, as he 
advanced, with many a low and obsequious salutation, to 
announce my dinner. 

I suppose that the cookery of the 'Mono' was not of 
the very highest order, and that if presented before me 
now it would meet but sorry acceptance from my more 
educated palate; but at the time I speak of, it seemed 
actually delicious. There appeared to arise faint odours 
of savoury import, from dishes whose garlic would now 
almost suffocate me, and I luxuriated in the flavour of 
wine, every glass of which would, at this day, have put my 
teeth on edge. If my enjoyment was great, however, I 
took care not to let it appear too palpable ; on the con- 
trary, I criticised and condemned with all the fastidious- 
ness of a spoiled nature, and only condescended to taste 
anything on the perpetual assurance of the host, that 
' though very different from what his Excellency was used 
to, it was exactly to the taste of the late Gobernador.' 



CON CREGAN 473 

I felt all the swelling importance of wealth within me 
as I beheld the cringing lackeys and the obsequious host, 
who never dared to carry himself erect in my presence 
— the very meats seemed to send up an incense to my 
nostrils. The gentle wind that shook the orange blossoms 
seemed made to bear its odour to my senses — all nature 
appeared tributary to my enjoyment. And only to 
think of it ! all this adulation was for poor Con Cregan, 
the convict's son, the houseless street-runner of Dublin, 
the cabin-boy of the yacht, the flunkey at Quebec, the 
penniless wanderer in Texas, the wag of the ' Noria ' in 
Mexico — what a revulsion, and how sudden and unex- 
pected ! 

It now became a matter of deep consideration within 
me how I should support this unlooked-for change of 
condition without betraying too palpably what the French 
would call my ' antecedents.' As to my ' relatives ' — forgive 
the poor pun — they gave me little trouble. I had often 
remarked in life that vulgar wealth never exhibits itself 
in a more absurd and odious light than when indulging in 
pleasures of which the sole enjoyment is the amount of 
the cost. The upstart rich man may sit in a gallery of 
pictures where Titian, Velasquez, and Van Dyck have given 
him a company, whose very countenances seem to despise 
him, while he thinks of nothing save the price. If he listen 
to Malibran, the only sense awakened is the cost of her 
engagement ; and hence that stolid apathy — the lustreless 
gaze — the unrelieved weariness he exhibits in society, 
where it is the metal of the ' mind ' is clinking, and not the 
metal of the ' mint.' To a certain extent I did not incur 
great danger on this head. Nature had done me some 
kind services, the chief of which was, she had made me an 
Irishman ! 

There may seem — alas ! there is too great cause that 
there should seem — something paradoxical in this boast 
now, when sorrow and suffering are so much our portion, 
but I speak only of the individuality which, above every 



474 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

other I have seen or heard of, invests a man with a spirit 
to enjoy whatever is agreeable in life. Now this same 
gift is a great safeguard against the vulgarity of purse- 
pride, since the man who launches forth upon the open sea 
of pleasure is rarely occupied by thoughts of self. 

I felt a kind of gluttony for every delight that gold can 
purchase. What palaces I would inhabit ; what equipages 
I would drive ; what magnificent fetes I would give ; what 
inimitable little dinners, where beauty, wit, and genius 
alone should be gathered together; what music should I 
possess in 'my private band,' what exotics in my con- 
servatory ; and how I should dispense these fascinations ; 
what happiness would I diffuse in the circle in which I 
moved, and what a circle would that be ! It was to this 
precise point my buoyant fancy had brought me, as the 
second flask of champagne, iced almost to a crystal, had 
warmed me into a glow of imaginative enthusiasm. 
I fancied myself in a gilded saloon, where, amid the 
glare of a thousand wax-lights, a brilliant company were 
assembled. I thought that at each opening of the folding- 
door a servant announced some name, illustrious from 
position or great in reputation, and that around me, as I 
stood, a group was gathered of all that was distinguished 
in the world of fashion or celebrity. ' Your Royal High- 
ness has made this the proudest day of my life,' said I, 
rising and bowing reverentially before a faded old arm- 
chair. • May I offer your Eminence a seat ? ' continued I, 
to a red sofa-cushion I mistook for a cardinal. 'Your 
Excellency is most heartily welcome,' said I to an empty 
decanter; and so did I convert every adjunct of the 
chamber into some distinguished personage, even to my 
fast-expiring lamp, which, with a glimmering flame and 
a nauseous odour, was gradually dying away, and which 
I actually addressed as a great ambassador ! 

After this I conclude that I must have imagined myself 
in the East, possibly taking a cup of sherbet with the 
Sultan, or a chibouk with the Khan of Tammerkabund, 



ON CREGAN 475 

for when I became conscious once more, I found myself 
upon the hearth-rug, where I had been enjoying a delicious 
sleep for some hours. 

'Would his Excellency desire to see his chamber ?' asked 
the landlord, as, with a branch of candles, he stood in the 
doorway. 

I waved my hand in sign of assent, and followed him. 




W WGR 



GUAJUAQUALLA 

HERE are few things in this world gold 
cannot buy, but one among their number 
assuredly is — 'a happy dream.' Now, although I went 
to sleep in a great bed with damask hangings and a gilt 
crown upon it, my pillow fringed with deep lace, my 
coverlet of satin edged with gold, I dreamed the whole 
night through of strifes, combats, and encounters. At 
one time my enemy would be an Indian, at another a 
half-breed, now a negro, now a jaguar or a rattlesnake ; 
but with whom or whatever the struggle, it was always 
for money ! Nothing else seemed to have any hold upon 
my thoughts. Wealth, and wealth alone, appeared the 
guiding principle of my being, and, as the penalty, I was 
now to learn the ceaseless anxieties, the torturing dreads, 
this passion begets. 

With daylight, however, I awoke, and the bright sun 
streaming in, brought the glorious reality of my happy lot 
before me, and reminded me of the various duties my high 
state imposed. My first care was to ascertain the amount 



THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 477 

and security of my riches, and I resolved to proceed 
regularly, and in the most businesslike manner, in the 
matter. To this end I ordered my carriage, and proceeded 
to pay my visit to the banker, Don Xafire. 

I had devised and demolished full fifty ingenious narra- 
tives of myself when I drove into the courtyard where 
the banker resided, and found myself actually without one 
single satisfactory account of who I was, whence I came, 
and by what means I became possessed of the formidable 
papers I carried. ' Let circumstances pilot the event ' was 
my old maxim, and so saying, I entered. 

The rattling tramp of my six mules, the cracking of 
whips and the crash of the wheels, brought many a head 
to the windows of the old gaol-like palace when my 
carriage drove up to the door, and the two outriders 
stood in ' a salute ' at each side while I descended. ' Sua 
Eccelenza El Conde de Cregano' resounded through the 
arched hall and passages, as an old servant in a tawdry 
suit of threadbare livery led the way to Don Xafire's 
private apartment. 

After a brief wait in a large but meagrely furnished 
chamber, an old man — or a middle-aged one, with a look of 
age — entered, and with a profusion of ceremonial, in which 
he assured me that his house, his wife, his oxen, his mules, 
his asses, and in fact everything ' that was his,' stood at 
my disposal, asked to what fortunate event he owed the 
honour of my visit. 

' I am the representative, Seiihor Xafire,' said I, ' of the 
great house of Cregan and Company, of which doubtless 
you have heard, whose ships walk the waters of the icy 
seas, and lay at anchor amid the perfumes of the spice 
islands, and whose traffic unites two hemispheres.' 

'May they always be prosperous,' said the polite 
Spaniard, bowing. 

' They have hitherto enjoyed that blessing,' responded 
I, almost thankfully. ' Even as the youngest member of 
the firm, I have nothing to complain of on the score of 



478 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

prosperity.' I smiled, took forth a most gorgeous snuff- 
box, all glittering with brilliants, and, presenting it to the 
Spaniard, laid it carelessly on the table. After a brief 
pause to let the splendour settle down into his heart, I 
proceeded to inform him that in the course of commercial 
transactions a vast number of bills, receipts for deposits, 
and other securities, had fallen into our hands, upon many 
of which we had advanced large sums, seeing that they 
bore the name of that most respectable house, the Bank 
of Don Xafire of Guajuaqualla. ' These would,' I added, 
' have been dispersed through the various channels of 
trade, had it not been the wish of my partners to open 
distinct relations with your house, and consequently they 
have retained the papers until a favourable occasion pre- 
sented itself of personally making the proposition. This 
happy opportunity has arisen by our recent purchase of 
the great gold-mines of the " Arguareche " for seventy 
millions of piastres, of which you may have read in the 
Faros de la Habana.' 

He bowed a humble negative, and I went on to state 
that our mining operations requiring co-operation and 
assistance, we desired to open relations with the great 
house of Don Xafire, whose good fame was well estab- 
lished on the 'Change of Liverpool. 

' You spoke of paper-securities and such like, senhor ; 
may I ask of what nature they are ? ' 

' You shall see them, Don Xafire,' said I, opening a very 
magnificent pocket-book, and presenting first a receipt, 
dated forty-eight years back, for the sum of twelve 
thousand piastres in silver, and four bags, weighing two 
hundred and eighty pounds of gold dust, from the hands 
of Menelaus Crick, of the mines of Hajoras, near Guajua- 
qualla. The Spaniard's dark cheek trembled, and a faint 
tinge of sickly yellow seemed to replace the dusky olive of 
his tint, as he said, ' This is but waste-paper, senhor, and I 
trust your excellent house has advanced nothing on its 
credit.' 



CON CREGAN 479 

' On the contrary, Senhor Banquiero,' responded I, • we 
have given the full sum, being much advised thereto by 
competent counsel.' 

The battle was now opened and the combat begun. 

It is needless I should weary my reader by recapitulat- 
ing the tissue of inventions in which, as in a garment, I 
wrapped myself. I saw quickly that if / was a rogue, 
so was my antagonist, and that for every stratagem 7" 
possessed, he was equally ready with another. At last, 
pushed hard by his evasions, equivocations, and subter- 
fuges, I was driven to utter a shadowy kind of menace, in 
which I artfully contrived to mix the name of the General 
Santa Anna— a word, in those days, of more than talis- 
manic power. 

'And this reminds me,' said I, 'that one of my suite, 
who lost his way, and was taken prisoner in the Rocky 
Mountains, committed to my charge a letter, in which, I 
fancy, the general is interested.' This was a random shot, 
but it struck the bull's-eye through the very centre. The 
Sefihora Dias's letter was inclosed in an envelope, in which 
a few words only were written ; but these, few as they 
were, were sufficient to create considerable emotion in 
Don Xafire, who retired into a window to read and re- 
read them. 

Another shot, thought I, and he 's disabled ! ' It is 
needless, then, Don Xafire, to prolong an interview which 
promises so little. I will therefore take my leave ; my 
next communication will reach you through the General 
Santa Anna.' 

' May I not crave a little time for consideration, senhor ? ' 
said he humbly : ' these are weighty considerations ; there 
may be other demands still heavier in store for us of the 
same kind.' 

' You are right, senhor ; there are other and still heavier 
claims, as you very properly opine. Some of them I have 
here with me ; others are in the hands of our house ; but 
all shall be forthcoming, I assure you.' 



480 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

' What may be the gross amount, senhor ? ' said the 
banker, trying, but very ineffectually, to look at his ease. 

'Without pretending to minute accuracy, I should 
guess the sum at something like seven hundred thousand 
piastres — this, exclusive of certain claims for compensation 
usual in cases of inquiry. You understand me, I believe.' 
The last menace was a shot in the very centre of his 
magazine, and so the little usurer felt it, as he fidgeted 
among his papers, and concealed his face from me. 

' Come, Senhor Xafire,' said I, with the air of a man who 
means to deal mercifully, and not to crush the victim in 
his power, ' I will be moderate with you. These bills and 
receipts shall be all placed in your hands on payment of 
the sums due, without any demand for interest whatever. 
We will not speak of the other claims at all. The trans- 
action shall be strictly in honour between us, and nothing 
shall ever transpire to your disadvantage regarding it. Is 
this enough ? ' 

The struggle in the banker's mind was a difficult one ; 
but after several hours passed in going over the papers, 
after much discussion, and some altercation, I gained the 
day ; and when I arose to take my leave, it was with my 
pocket-book stuffed full of bills, on Pernambuco, Mexico, 
Santa Cruz, and the Havannah, with letters of credit, 
bonds, and other securities, the whole amounting to four 
hundred thousand piastres. The remaining sum of three 
hundred thousand I had agreed to leave in Don Xafire's 
hands at reasonable interest. In fact, I was but too 
happy in the possession of so much, to think twice about 
what became of the remainder. 

I presented my friend Xafire with my ruby brooch as 
a souvenir — not, indeed, that he needed anything to remind 
him of our acquaintance — and we parted with all the 
regrets of brothers about to separate. 

' You will stay some days with us here, I hope ? ' said 
he, as he conducted me to my carriage. 

'I intend a short visit to some of the old placers in 



CON CREGAN 481 

your neighbourhood,' replied I, ' after which I mean to 
return here ' ; and so, with a last embrace, we parted. 

My next care was to pay a visit to Don Estaban, for I 
was burning with anxiety to see Donna Maria once more, 
and to open my campaign as a rich suitor for her hand. 
The day chosen for this expedition seemed a fortunate one, 
for the road, which led through a succession of vineyards, 
was thronged with townspeople and peasants in gay 
holiday dresses, all wending their way in the same direc- 
tion with ourselves. I asked the reason, and heard that it 
was the fete of the Virgin de los Dolores, whose chapel was 
on the estate of Don Estaban. I bethought me of the time 
when I had planned a pilgrimage to that same shrine — 
little suspecting that I was to make it in my carriage, with 
six mules and two outriders ! 

In less than an hour's drive we came in sight of Don 
Estaban's villa, built on the side of a richly wooded 
mountain, and certainly not betraying any signs of the 
reduced fortune of which I had heard. A series of 
gardens, all terraced in the mountain, lay in front, among 
which fountains were playing and jets cTeau springing. A 
small lake spread its calm surface beneath, reflecting the 
whole scene as in a mirror, with its feathery palm-trees 
and blossoming mimosas, beneath whose shade hundreds 
of visitors were loitering or sitting, while the tinkling 
sounds of guitar and mandolin broke the stillness. 

It was a strange and curious sight ; for while pleasure 
seemed to hold unbounded sway on every side, the pro- 
cession of priests in rich vestments, the smoke of censers, 
the red robes of acolytes, mingled with the throng, and 
the deep chanting of the liturgies were blended with the 
laughter of children and the merry sounds of light-hearted 
joy. ' I have come in the very nick of time,' thought I, 
' to complete this scene of festivity ' ; and finding that my 
carriage could only advance slowly along the crowded 
avenue, I descended and proceeded on foot, merely at- 
tended by two lackeys to make way for me in front. 
13 2h 



482 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

A lively controversy ran among the spectators at each 
side of me, of which I was evidently the subject — some 
averring that I was there as a portion of the pageant, an 
integral feature in the procession ; others, with equal 
discrimination, insisting that my presence was a polite 
attention on the part of Our Lady de ' los Dolores,' who 
had sent an illustrious personage to grace the festival as 
her representative. On one point all were agreed — that 
my appearance amongst them was a favour which a whole 
life of devotion to me could not repay ; and so rapidly was 
this impression propagated, that it sped up the long 
approach through various groups and knots of people, 
and actually reached the villa itself long before my august 
person arrived at the outer court. 

Never was dignity — at least such dignity as mine — 
intrusted to better hands than those of my 'Cacadores.' 
They swaggered along, pushing back the crowds on each 
side, as though it were a profanation to press too closely 
upon me. They flourished their great, gold-headed canes, 
as if they would smash the skulls of those whose eager 
curiosity outstepped the reverence due to me ; and when 
at length we reached the gates of the courtyard, they 
announced my name with a grandeur and pomp of utter- 
ance that — I own it frankly — actually appalled myself ! I 
had not, however, much time given me for such weak- 
nesses, as, directly in front of the villa, at a table spread 
beneath an awning of blue silk, sat a goodly company, 
whose splendour of dress, and profusion of jewellery, 
bespoke them the great guests of the occasion. The host — 
it was easy to detect him by the elevated seat he occupied 
— rose as I came forward, and, with a humility I never can 
praise too highly, assured me that if any choice were 
permitted him in the matter, he would prefer dying on the 
spot, now that his worldly honours could never exceed the 
triumph of that day ; that all the happiness of the festivity 
was as gloom and darkness to his soul compared to the 
brilliancy my presence diffused ; and not only was every- 



COX CEEGAX 483 

thing he owned niine from that moment forth, but he 
ardently hoped he might have a long line of grandchildren 
and great-grandchildren to be my slaves in succeeding 
generations. 

While the worthy man poured forth these 'truths' in 
all the flourish of his purest Castilian. and while I listened 
to them with the condescending urbanity with which a 
sovereign may be presumed to hear the strains of some 
national melody in his praise, another individual was added 
to the group, whose cunning features evinced nothing either 
of the host's reverence or of my grandeur. This was Fra 
Miguel, the friar, who. in a costume of extraordinary 
simplicity, stood staring fixedly at me. 

1 II Conde de Cregano ! ' repeated Don Estaban. ' I have 
surely heard the name before. Your highness is doubtless 
a grandee of Spain ? ' 

' Of the first class ! ' said I, with a slight cough, for the 
confounded friar never took his eyes off me. 

1 And we have met before, Sehor Conde/ said he. with a 
most equivocal stress upon the last words. 'How pleasant 
for me to thank the conde for what I believed I owed to 
the mere wayfarer.' These words he uttered in a whisper 
close to my own ear. 

'Better that than ungratefully desert a benefactor!' 
said I, in the same low tone ; then, turning to Don 
Estaban. who stood amazed at our dramatic asides, I told 
him pretty much what I had already related to the banker 
at Guajuaqualla. only adding, that during an excursion 
which it was my caprice to make alone and unaccom- 
panied. I had been able to render a slight service to his 
fair daughter. Donna Maria de los Dolores, and that I 
could not pass the neighbourhood without inquiring 
after her health, and craving permission to kiss her 
hand. 

; Is this the Sehhor Cregan of the " Rio del Crocodielo?"' 
cried Don Estaban. in rapture. 

' The same whom we left in safe keeping with our 



484 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

Brothers of Mercy at Bexar?' exclaimed the friar, in 
affected amazement. 

' The very same, Fra Miguel, whom you humanely 
consigned to the Lazaretto of Bexar — an establishment 
which has as little relation to "mercy" as need be; the 
same who, having resumed the rank and station that 
belong to him, can afford to forget your cold-hearted 
desertion.' 

'San Joachim of UUoa knows if I did not pay for 
masses for your soul's repose ! ' exclaimed he. 

'A very little care of me in this world,' said I, 'had 
been to the full as agreeable as all your solicitations for 
me in the next; and as for San Joachim,' added I, 'no 
witness can be received as evidence who will not appear 
in court.' 

' It is a pleasure to see your Excellency in the perfect 
enjoyment of your faculties,' said the fra, with a deceitful 
smile ; but I paid little attention to his sneer, and turned 
willingly to Don Estaban, whose grateful acknowledg- 
ments were beyond all bounds. He vowed that he owed 
his daughter's life to my heroism, and that he and she, and 
all that were theirs, were mine. 

' Very gratifying tidings these,' thought I, ' for a man 
who only asks for an " instalment of his debt," and will be 
satisfied with the lady.' 

' Maria shall tell you so herself,' added Don Estaban, in 
a perfect paroxysm of grateful emotion. ' Don Lopez y 
Cuesta y Geloso can never forget your noble conduct.' 
Not caring much how retentive the memory of the afore- 
said hidalgo might prove — whom I at once set down as an 
uncle or a godfather — I hastened after the host to where 
his daughter sat at the table. I had but time to see that 
she was dressed in black, with a profusion of diamonds 
scattered not only through her hair, but over her dress, 
when she arose, and ere I could prevent it, fell at my 
feet, and covered my hands with kisses — calling me her 
' Salvador,' in a voice of the wildest enthusiasm ; an 



CON CREGAN 485 

emotion which seemed most electrically to seize upon the 
whole company, for I was now laid hold of by every limb, 
and hugged, kissed, and embraced by a score of people, 
the large majority of whom, I grieve to say, were the very 
hardest specimens of what is called the softer sex. 

One member of the company maintained a look of 
cold distrust towards me, the very opposite of all this 
cordiality. This was Don Lopez, who did not need this 
air of dislike to appear to my eyes the ugliest mortal I 
had ever beheld. He was exceedingly short of stature, 
but of an immense breadth ; and yet, even with this, his 
head was far too big for his body. A huge spherical mass, 
party-coloured with habits of debauch, looked like a 
terrestrial globe, of which the mouth represented the 
equator. His attempts at embellishment had even made 
him more horrible, for he wore a great wig, with long 
curls flowing upon his shoulders ; and his immense 
moustaches were curled into a series of circles, like a 
ram's horn. His nose had been divided across the middle 
by what seemed the slash of a cutlass, the cicatrix 
remaining of an angry red colour, amid the florid hue of 
the countenance. 

The expression of these benign features did not 
disgrace their symmetry. It was a cross between a 
scowl and a sneer; the eyes and brow performed the 
former, the mouth assuming the latter function. 

Blushing with shame, and trembling with emotion, 
Maria led me towards him, and in accents I can never 
forget, told how I had rescued her in the passage of the 
Crocodile River. The wretch scowled more darkly than 
before, as he listened, and when she ended, he muttered 
something between his bloated lips that sounded marvel- 
lously like ' Picaro ! ' 

' Your godfather scarcely seems so grateful as one 
might expect, senhora,' said I. 

' Muerte de Dios ! ' he burst out ; ' I am her husband.' 

Whether it was the simple fact so palpably brought 
X3 2 1 



486 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

forward, the manner of its announcement, or the terrible 
curse that involuntarily fell from my lips, I know not, 
but Donna Maria fell down in a swoon. Fainting 
among foreigners, I have often found, is regarded next 
door to actually dying; and so it was here. A scene of 
terror and dismay burst forth that soon converted the 
festivity into an uproar of wild confusion. Every one 
screamed for aid, and dashed water in his neighbour's 
face. The few who retained any presence of mind filled 
out large bumpers of wine and drank them off. Meanwhile 
Donna Maria was sufficiently recovered to be conducted 
into the house, whither she was followed by her marido, 
Don Lopez, whose last look as he passed me was one of 
insulting defiance. 

The cause of order having triumphed, as the news- 
papers say, I was led to one side by Don Estaban, who in 
a few words told me that Don Lopez was a special envoy 
from the Court of Madrid, come out to arrange some 
disputed question of a debt between the two countries; 
that he was a Grandee d'Espana, a Golden Fleece, and I 
don't know what besides — his title of Donna Maria's 
husband being more than enough to swallow up every 
other consideration with me. The ceremony had been per- 
formed that very morning. It was the wedding breakfast 
I had thrown into such confusion and dismay. 

Don Estaban, in his triumphal narrative of his 
daughter's great elevation in rank — of the proud place 
she would occupy in the proud court of the Escurial — her 
wealth, her splendour, and her dignity, could not repress 
the fatherly sorrow he felt at such a disproportioned 
union; nor could he say anything of his son-in-law but 
what concerned his immense fortune. ' Had it been you, 
Sefihor Conde,' cried he, throwing himself into my arms — 
'you, young, handsome, and well-born as you are, I had 
been happy.' 

' Is it too late, Don Estaban ? ' said I passionately. ' I 
have wealth that does not yield to Don Lopez, and Maria 
is not — at least, she was not—indifferent regarding me.' 



CON CREGAN 487 

' Oh, it is too late, far too late ! ' cried the father, 
wringing his hands. 

' Let me speak with Maria herself. Let me also speak 
with this Don Lopez. I may be able to make him under- 
stand reason, however dull his comprehension.' 

' This cannot be, Senhor Caballero,' said another voice. 
It was Fra Miguel, who, having heard all that passed, now 
joined the colloquy. ' Nothing short of a dispensation 
from the Holy See could annul the marriage, and Don 
Lopez is not likely to ask for one.' 

' I will not suffer it,' cried I, in desperation. ' I would 
rather carry her away by force than permit such a 
desecration.' 

' Hush, for the love of the Virgin, senhor,' cried Don 
Estaban. ' Don Lopez is captain of the Alguazils of the 
Guard, and a Grand Inquisitor.' 

' What signifies that in Mexico ? ' said I boldly. 

' More than you think for, senhor,' whispered Fra 
Miguel. 'We have not ceased to be good Catholics, 
although we are no longer subjects of old Spain.' There 
was an air of cool menace in the way these words were 
spoken that made me feel very ill at ease. I soon rallied 
however, and drawing the friar to one side, said, ' How 
many crowns will buy a candelabrum worthy of your 
chapel ? ' 

He looked at me fixedly for a few seconds, and his 
shrewd features assumed a character of almost comic 
cunning. ' The Virgin de los Dolores is too simple for 
such luxuries, Senhor Conde,' said he, with a sly drollery. 

'Would she not condescend to wear a few gems in her 
petticoat ? ' asked I, with the easy assurance of one not to 
be balked. 

'She has no pleasure in such vanities,' said the fra, 
with an hypocritical casting down of his eyes. 

'Would she not accept of an embroidered handker- 
chief,' said I, ' to dry her tears ? I have known one of this 
pattern to possess the most extraordinary powers of 



488 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

consolation ' ; and as I spoke I drew forth a bank-note of 
some amount, and gently drew it across his knuckles. 

A slight tremor shook his frame, and a short convulsive 
motion was perceptible in the hand I had ' galvanised ' ; but 
in an instant, with his habitual calm smile and mellow 
voice, he said, ' Your piety will bring a blessing upon you, 
senhor, but our poor shrine is unused to such princely 
donations.' 

' Confound the old hypocrite,' muttered I to myself ; 
' what is he at ? ' — ' Fra Miguel,' said I, assuming the 
businesslike manner of a man who could not afford to 
lose time, ' the Virgin may be, and doubtless is, all that 
you say of her ; but there must needs be many excellent 
and devout men here, yourself doubtless amongst the 
number, who see numberless objects of charity for whom 
their hearts bleed in vain. Take this, and remember that 
he who gave it only asks as a return your prayers and 
good wishes.' 

The friar deposited the present in some inscrutable 
fold of his loose garment, and then drawing himself 
proudly up, said, ' Well, now, what is it ? ' 

'Am I too late?' asked I, with the same purposelike tone. 

' Of course you are ; the ceremony is finished ; the con- 
tracts are signed and witnessed. In an hour they will be 
away on their road to the Havannah.' 

' You have no consolation to offer me — no hope ? ' 

'None of an earthly character,' said he, with a half- 
closed eye. 

' Confound your hypocrisy ! ' cried I, in a rage. 

' Don't be profane,' said he calmly. ' What I have said 
is true. Heaven will some day take Don Lopez ; he is too 
good for this wicked world, and then, who knows what 
may happen ! ' 

This was but sorry comfort, waiting for the bride to 
become a widow ; but alas, I had no better ! besides, it had 
cost me a heavy sum to obtain, and accordingly I prized it 
the more highly. 



CON CREGAN 489 

If my anxieties were acute, apparently Don Lopez's 
niind was not in a state of perfect serenity. He stormed 
and raved at everybody and everything. He saw, or what 
was pretty much the same thing, he fancied he saw, a plot 
in the whole business, and swore he would bring the 
vengeance of the Holy Office upon everybody concerned 
in it. In this blessed frame of mind the departure of the 
newly wedded pair took place. In spite of all my entreaties 
Don Lopez drove away with his young bride. The last I 
beheld of her was a white hand waving a handkerchief 
from the window of the carriage. I looked, and — she was 



gone 



If some were kind-hearted enough to pity me, the large 
majority of the company felt very differently, and bore 
anything but friendly feelings to one who had marred 
the festivities, and cut short — Heaven could only tell by 
what number of days — the eating, dancing, singing, and 
merriment. 

The old ladies were peculiarly severe in their comments, 
averring that no well-bred man would have thought of 
interfering with a marriage. It was quite time enough 
to talk of his passion when the others were six or eight 
months married ! 

Of the younger ladies, a few condoled with me, praised 
my heroism and my constancy, and threw out sly hints 
that when I tried my luck next, fortune might possibly be 
more generous to me. Don Estaban himself appeared to 
sympathise sincerely with my sorrow, and evinced the 
warmest sense of gratitude for the past. Even the fra 
tried a little good-nature, but it sat ill upon him, and it was 
easy to see that he entertained a great mistrust of me. 

From the brief experience of what I suffered in these 
few days, I am decidedly of opinion that rich men are far 
more impatient under reverses and disappointments than 
poor ones ! It was a marvellous change for one like me, 
whose earlier years, it is unnecessary to remind the reader, 
were not passed in the lap of that comfortable wet-nurse 



490 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

called 'affluence,' and yet with all this brilliant present 
and still more fascinating future, at the very first instance 
of an opposition to my will I grew sad, dispirited, and 
morose. I should have been very angry with myself for 
my ingratitude, but that I set it all down to the score of 
love; and so I went about the house, visiting each room 
where Donna Maria used to sit, reading her books, gazing 
at her picture, and feeding my mind with a hundred 
fancies, which the next moment of thought told me were 
now impossible. 

Don Estaban, whose grief for the loss of his daughter 
was in a manner divided with mine, would not suffer me 
to leave him, and although the place itself served to keep 
open the wound of my regret, and the fra's presence was 
anything but conciliatory, I passed several days at the 
villa. 

It would have been the greatest relief to me could I 
have persuaded myself to be candid with Don Estaban, 
and told him frankly the true story of my life. I felt that 
all the consolations which he offered me were of no avail, 
simply because I had misled him ! The ingenious tissue of 
fiction in which I enveloped myself was a web so thin 
that it tore whenever I stirred, and my whole time was 
spent, as it were, in darning, patching, and piecing the 
frail garment with which I covered my nakedness. 

A dozen times every day I jumped up, determined to 
reveal my humble history, but as regularly did a senti- 
ment of false shame hold me back, and a dread of old 
Fra Miguel's malicious leer, should he hear the story. 
Another, and a strange feeling, too, influenced me. My 
imaginary rank, birth, and station had, from the mere 
force of repetition, grown to be a portion of myself. I 
had played the part with such applause before the world, 
that I could not find in my heart to retire behind the 
scenes and resume the humble dress of my real condition. 

By way of distracting my gloomy thoughts, I made 
little excursions in the surrounding country, in one of 



CON CREGAN 491 

which I contrived to revisit the placer, and carry away- 
all the treasure which I had left behind me. This was 
much more considerable than I had at first believed, the 
gems being of a size and beauty far beyond any I had 
ever seen before ; while the gold, in actual coined money, 
amounted to a large sum. 

Affecting to have changed my original intention of 
investing a great capital in the mines of Mexico, and 
resolved instead to return to Europe, I consulted Don 
Estaban as to the safest hands in which to deposit my 
money. He named a certain wealthy firm at the 
Havannah, and gave me a letter of introduction to them, 
requesting for me all the attention in their power to 
bestow ; and so we parted. 

It was with sincere sorrow I shook his hand for the 
last time ; his cordiality was free-hearted and affectionate ; 
and I carry with me, to this hour, the memory of his wise 
counsels and honest precepts, as treasures, not the least 
costly, I brought away with me from the New World. 

I arrived safely at the Havannah, travelling in princely 
state, with two carriages and a great baggage-waggon, 
guarded by four mounted carabinieros, who had taken a 
solemn oath at the shrine of a certain Saint Magalano to 
eat any bandits who should molest us — a feat of digestion 
which I was not sorry their devotion was spared. 

The bankers to whom Don Estaban's letters introduced 
me were most profuse in their offers of attention, and 
treated me with all the civilities reserved for the most 
favoured client. I only accepted, however, one invitation 
to dinner, to meet the great official dignitaries of the place, 
and the use of their box each evening at the opera, affect- 
ing to make delicacy of health the reason of not frequent- 
ing society — a pretext I had often remarked in use among 
people of wealth and distinction, among whose privileges 
there is that of being sick without suffering. 

There was a French packet-ship to sail for Malaga in 
about ten days after my arrival, and, as I knew that Don 



492 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

Lopez intended to leave that port for Europe, I quietly 
waited in the Havannah, determined to be his fellow- 
traveller. In preparing for this voyage, every thought of 
my mind was occupied, resolved to outdo the old Spaniard 
in luxury and magnificence. I ordered the most costly 
clothes, I engaged the most accomplished servants, I 
bespoke everything which could make the tediousness of 
the sea less irksome, even to the services of a distinguished 
performer on the guitar, who was about to visit Europe, 
and engaged to begin his journey under such distinguished 
patronage as that of the Conde de Cregano. 

What wonderful speculations did I revel in as I pictured 
to myself Don Lopez's ineffectual rage and his fair wife's 
satisfaction when I should first make my appearance on 
deck — an appearance which I artfully devised should not 
take place until we were some days at sea ! What agonies 
of jealousy should I not inflict upon the old Castilian! 
what delicate flatteries should I not offer up to the Donna! 
I had laid in a store of moss-rose plants, to present her 
with a fresh bouquet every morning — and then I would 
serenade her each night beneath the very window of her 
cabin. So perfectly had I arranged all these details to my 
own satisfaction, that the voyage began to appear a mere 
pleasure -excursion, every portion of whose enjoyment 
originated with me, and all whose blanks and disappoint- 
ments owed their paternity to Don Lopez ; so that, 
following up these self-created convictions in my usual 
sanguine manner, I firmly persuaded myself that the 
worthy husband would either go mad, or jump overboard, 
before we landed at Malaga. Let not the reader fall into 
the error of supposing that hatred to Don Lopez was 
uppermost in my thoughts. Far from it — I wished him in 
heaven every hour of the twenty-four, and would willingly 
have devoted one-half of my fortune to make a saint of 
him in the next world, rather than make a martyr in this. 

I was walking one evening in my . banker's garden, 
chatting pleasantly on indifferent topics, when, on ascend- 



CON CREGAN 493 

ing a little eminence, we came in view of the sea. It was 
a calm and lovely evening, a very light land-breeze was 
just rippling the waters of the bay, fringing the blue with 
white, when we saw the graceful spars of a small sloop-of- 
war emerge from beneath the shadow of the tall cliffs 
and stand out to sea. 

' The Moschetta] said he, ' has got a fair wind, and will 
be out of sight of land by daybreak.' 

' Whither is she bound ? ' asked I carelessly. 

' For Cadiz,' said he ; ' she came into port only this 
morning, and is already off again.' 

'With despatches, perhaps?' I remarked, with the same 
tone of indifference. 

' No, sehhor ; she came to convey Don Lopez y Geloso, 
the Spanish ambassador, back to Madrid.' 

' And is he on board of her now ? ' screamed I, in a 
perfect paroxysm of terror. ' Is she too ? ' 

' He embarked about an hour ago, with his bride and 
suite,' said the astonished banker, who evidently was not 
quite sure of his guest's sanity. 

Overwhelmed by these tidings, which gave at once the 
death-blow to all my plans, I could not speak, but sat 
down upon a seat, my gaze fixed upon the vessel which 
carried all my dearest hopes. 

' You probably desired to see his Excellency before he 
sailed ? ' said the banker timidly, after waiting a long time 
in the expectation that I would speak. 

' Most anxiously did I desire it,' said I, shrouding my 
sorrow under an affectation of important state solicitude. 

' What a misfortune,' exclaimed he, ' that you should 
have missed him ! in all likelihood, had you seen him, 
he would have agreed to our terms.' 

' You are right,' said I, shaking my head sententiously, 
and neither guessing nor caring what he alluded to. 

' So that he would have accepted the guarantee,' ex- 
claimed the banker, with increased excitement. 

'He would have accepted the guarantee,' echoed I, 



494 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

without the remotest idea of what the words could 
mean. 

'Oh, Madre de Dios! what an unhappy mischance is 
this! Is it yet too late? Alas, the breeze is freshening 
— the sloop is already sinking beyond the horizon ; to 
overtake her would be impossible. And you say that the 
guarantee would have been accepted ? ' 

' You may rely upon it,' said I, the more confidently as 
I saw that the ship was far beyond the chance of pursuit. 

'What a benefactor to this country you might have 
been, senhor, had you done us this service ! ' cried the 
banker with enthusiasm. 

'Well, it is too late to think of it now,' said I, 
rather captiously, for I began to be worried with 
the mystification. 

' Of course, for the present it is too late ; but when you 
arrive in Europe, Senhor Conde — when you are once more 
in the land where your natural influence holds sway, may 
we entertain the hope that you will regard our case with 
the same favourable eyes ? ' 

' Yes, yes,' said I, with impatience, ' if I see no reason to 
change my opinions.' 

' Upon the subject of the original loan there can be no 
doubt, Senhor Conde.' 

' Perhaps not,' said I ; ' but these are questions I must 
decline entering upon. You will, yourself, perceive that 
any discussion of them would be inconvenient and 
indiscreet.' 

The diplomatic reserve of this answer checked the 
warmth of his importunity, and he bashfully withdrew, 
leaving me to the undisturbed consideration of my own 
thoughts. 

I sat till it was already near midnight, gazing on the 
sea, my eyes still turned to the track by which the vessel 
had disappeared, and at last rose to retire, when, to my 
amazement, I perceived my friend, the banker, accom- 
panied by another person, approaching towards me. 



CON CREGAN 495 

' Senhor Conde,' said he, in a mysterious whisper, ' this 
is his Excellency the Governor ' ; and with these words, 
uttered in all the reverence of awe, he retired, leaving me 
face to face with a tall, dignified-looking personage, whose 
figure was concealed in the folds of a great cloak. 

In all the formal politeness of his rank and country, the 
governor begged I would be seated, and took his place 
beside me. He explained how the banker, one of the 
richest and most respected men in the Havannah, had 
informed him of my gracious intentions respecting them, 
and the sad mishap by which my mediation was foiled. 
He entered at length into the question of the debt and 
all its financial difficulties, which, even had they been 
far less intricate and complicated, would have puzzled 
a head which never had the bump arithmetical. How 
he himself saw his way through the labyrinth I know 
not, but had the sum been a moderate one, I vow I would 
rather have paid it myself than investigate it any farther, 
such an inextricable mass of complications, doubles, and 
difficulties did it involve. 

' Thus, you perceive,' said he, at the close of a formidable 
sum of figures, ' that these eighteen millions made no part 
of the old loan, but were, in fact, the first deposit of what 
is called the "Cuba debt"; not that it ever should have 
had that name, which more properly belonged to the 
original Poyais three-and-a-half — you understand me ? ' 

' Perfectly — proceed.' 

' That being the case, our liability is reduced to the sum 
of twenty-seven millions on the old f our-and-a-quarters.' 

' Clearly so.' 

* Now we approach the difficult part of the matter,' said 
he, ' and I must entreat your most marked attention ; for 
here lies the point which has hitherto proved the stumbling- 
block in the way of every negotiation.' 

I promised the strictest attention, and kept my word 
till I found myself in a maze of figures, where compound 
interest and decimal fractions danced a reel together, 



496 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

whose evolutions would have driven Mr. Babbage dis- 
tracted; while the governor, now grown 'warm in the 
harness,' kept exclaiming at every instant, 'Do you see 
how the "Ladrones" want to cheat us here? Do you 
perceive what the Picaros intend by that ? ' 

If I could not follow his arithmetic, I could at least 
sympathise in his enthusiasm; and I praised the honour 
of the Mexicans, while I denounced ' the cause of roguery ' 
over the face of the globe to his heart's content. 

'You are satisfied about the original debt, Sehhor 
Conde?' at last said he, after a 'four -mile heat' of 
explanation. 

' Most thoroughly,' said I, bowing. 

' You 'd not wish for anything further on that head ? ' 

' Not a syllable.' 

' And as to the Cuba instalment — you see the way in 
which the first scrip became entangled in the Chihuahua 
" fives," don't you ? ' 

' Plain as my hand before me.' 

'Then, of course, you acknowledge our right to the 
reserve fund ? ' 

' I don't see how it can be disputed,' said I. 

' And yet that is precisely what the Madrid Government 
contest ! ' 

' What injustice ! ' exclaimed I. 

'Evident as it is to your enlightened understanding, 
Senhor Conde, you are, nevertheless, the first man I have 
ever found to take the right view of this transaction. It 
is a real pleasure to discuss a state-question with a great 
man.' 

Hereupon we both burst forth into an animated duet 
of compliments, in which, I am bound to confess, the 
governor was the victor. 

' And now, Senhor Conde,' said he, after a long volley 
of panegyric, ' may we reckon upon your support in this 
affair ? ' 

'You must understand, first of all, Excellenza,' replied 



CON CREGAN 497 

I, 'that I am not in any way an official personage. 'I 
am' — here I smiled with a most fascinating air of mock 
humility — 'I am, so to speak, a humble, a very humble 
individual of unpretending rank and small fortune.' 

' Ah ! Seiihor Conde,' sighed the governor, for he had 
heard of my ingots from the banker. 

' Being as I say,' resumed I, ' my influence is naturally 
small. If I am listened to in a matter of political im- 
portance, I owe the courtesy rather to the memory of my 
family's services than to any insignificant merits I may 
possess. The cause of justice is, however, never weak, 
no matter how humble the means of him who asserts it. 
Such as I am, rely upon me.' 

We embraced here, and the governor shed a few official 
tears at the thought of so soon separating from one he 
regarded as more than his brother. 

' We feel, Senhor Conde,' said he, ' how inadequate any 
recognition of ours must be for services such as yours. 
We are a young country and a republic ; honours we have 
none to bestow — wealth is already your own — we have 
nothing to offer, therefore, but our gratitude.' 

' Be it so ! ' thought I, ' the burthen will not increase my 
luggage.' 

'This box will remind you, however, of an interview, 
and recall one who deems this the happiest, as it is the 
proudest, hour of his life ' ; here he presented me with a 
splendid gold snuff-box, containing a miniature of the 
president surrounded by enormous diamonds. 

Resolving not to be outdone in generosity, and, at least, 
not to be guilty of dishonesty before my own conscience, 
I insisted upon the governor's acceptance of my watch — a 
very costly repeater studded with precious stones. 

'The arms of my family — the Cregans are Irish — will 
bring me to your recollection,' said I, pointing to a very 
magnificent heraldic display on the timepiece, wherein 
figured the ancient crown of Ireland, over a shield, in one 
compartment of which was an 'eye winking,' the motto 



498 THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 

being the Gaelic word, ' Nabocklish,' signifying ' Never 
mind,' ironically. 

I will not dwell upon the other particulars of an inter- 
view which lasted till nigh morning. It will be sufficient 
to mention that I was presented with letters of introduction 
and recommendation to the Mexican Ministers at Paris and 
Madrid, instructing them to show me every attention, and 
desiring them to extend to me their entire confidence, 
particularly to furnish me with introductions to any 
official personages with whom I desired to be acquainted. 
This was all that I wanted — for I was immensely rich, 
and only needed permission to pass the door of the ' great 
world,' to mingle in that society for which my heart 
yearned and longed unceasingly. 

Some of my readers will smile at the simplicity which 
believed these passports necessary, and was ignorant that 
wealth alone is wanting to attain any position, to frequent 
any society, to be the intimate of any set in Europe, and 
that the rich man is other than he was in classic days — 
Honoratus, pulcher, rex denique regum. 

I have lived to be wiser, and to see vulgarity, coarseness, 
meanness, knavery, nay, even convicted guilt, the favoured 
guests of royal saloons. The moral indictments against 
crime have to the full as many flaws as the legal ones; 
and we see, in every society, men, and women too, as 
notoriously criminal as though they wore the red-and- 
yellow livery of the galleys. Physicians tell us that 
every drug whose sanitary properties are acknowledged 
in medicine, contains some ingredients of a noxious or 
poisonous nature. May not something similar exist in 
the moral world ? and even in the very healthiest mixture, 
may not some ' bitter principle ' be found to lurk ? 




WAS not sorry to leave the Havannah on 
the following day. I did not desire 
another interview with my 'friend' the governor, but 
rather felt impatient to escape a repetition of his arith- 
metic, and the story of the ' original debt.' 

Desirous of supporting my character as a great person- 
age, and, at the same time, to secure for myself the 
pleasure of being unmolested during the voyage, I ob- 
tained the sole right to the entire cabin accommodation 
of the Acadie for myself and suite — my equipages, baggage, 
and some eight or ten Mexican horses occupying the deck. 

A salute of honour was fired as I ascended the ladder, 
and replied to by the forts — a recognition of my dignity 
at which I took occasion to seem offended, assuring the 
captain that I was travelling in the strictest incognito, 
leaving it to his powers of calculation to compute what 
amount of retinue and followers I should have when 
journeying in the full blaze of acknowledged identity. 



500 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

I sat upon the poop-deck as they weighed the anchor, 
contrasting in my mind my present condition with that of 
my first marine experiences on board the Firefly. I am 
richer thought I. Am I better ? Have I become more 
generous, more truthful, more considerate, more for- 
giving ? 

Has my knowledge of the world developed more of 
good in me or of evil? Have my own successes ministered 
rather to my self-esteem than to my gratefulness ; and 
have I learned to think meanly of all who have been 
beaten in the race of fortune ? Alas ! there was not a 
count of this indictment to which I dared plead 'Not 
guilty.' I had seen knavery thrive too often not to feel 
a kind of respect for its ability ; I saw honesty too often 
worsted not to feel something like contempt for its meek- 
ness. It was difficult to feel a reverence for poverty, 
whose traits were frequently ridiculous ; and it was hard 
to censure wealth, which dispensed its abundance in 
splendid hospitalities. Oh, the cunning sophistries by 
which we cover up our real feelings in this life, smother- 
ing every healthy impulse, and every generous aspiration, 
under the guise of some conventionality. 

My conscience was less lenient than I expected. I cut 
but a sorry figure ' in the dock,' and was obliged to throw 
myself upon the mercy of the court. I will be more 
considerate in future, said I to myself; I will be less 
exacting with my servants and more forgiving to their 
delinquencies ; I will try and remember that there is an 
acid property in poverty that sours even the sweetest 
'milk of human kindness!' I will be trustful, too — a 
' gentleman ' ought not to be suspicious ; it is eminently 
becoming a Bow Street officer, but suits not the atmo- 
sphere of good society. These excellent resolutions were, 
to a certain extent, apropos, for just as 'the foresail 
began to draw,' a boat came alongside and hailed the ship. 
I did not deign any attention to a circumstance so trivial 
to ' one of my condition,' and never noticed the conversa- 



CON CREGAN 501 

tion which in very animated tones was kept up between 
the captain and the stranger, until the former, approach- 
ing me with the most profound humility, and asking for- 
giveness for the great liberty he was about to take, said 
that a gentleman, whom urgent business recalled to 
Europe, humbly entreated permission to take his passage 
on board the Acadie. 

' Are you not aware it is impossible, my good friend ? ' 
said I listlessly; 'the accommodation is lamentably re- 
stricted as it is ; my secretary's cabin is like a dog-kennel, 
and my second cook has actually to lie round a corner, 
like a snake.' 

The captain reddened, and bit his lip in silence. 

'As for myself,' said I heroically, 'I never complain. 
Let me have any little cabin for my bed, a small bath- 
room, a place to lounge in during the day, with a few 
easy sofas, and a snug crib for a dinner-room, and I can 
always rough it. It was part of my father's system never 
to make Sybarites of his boys.' This I asserted with all 
the sturdy vehemence of truth. 

'We will do everything to make your Excellency 
comfortable,' said the captain, who clearly could not see 
the reasons for my self-praise ; ' and as to the consul — 
what shall we say to him ? ' 

' Consul, did you say ? ' said I. 

'Yes, Senhor Conde, he is the French Consul for the 
Republic of "Campecho."' That this was a state I had 
never heard of before was quite true, yet it was clearly 
one which the French Government were better informed 
upon, and deigned to recognise by an official agent. 

'Hold on there a bit!' shouted out the captain to the 
boat's crew. 'What shall I say, Senhor Conde? The 
Chevalier de la Boutonnerie is very anxious on the subject.' 

' Let this man have his passage,' said I indolently, and 

lighted a cigar, as if to turn my thoughts in another 

direction, not even noticing the new arrival, who was 

hoisted up the side with his portmanteau in a very 

13 2 k 



502 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

undignified fashion for an official character. He soon, how- 
ever, baffled this indifference on my part, by advancing 
towards me, and, in a manner where considerable ease 
and tact were evident, thanked me for my polite consider- 
ation regarding him, and expressed a hope that he might 
not in any way inconvenience me during the voyage. 

Now, the chevalier was not in himself a very pre- 
possessing personage, while his dress was of the very 
shabbiest, being a worn-out suit of black, covered by a 
coarse brown Mexican mantle ; and yet his fluency, his 
quiet assurance, his seeming self-satisfaction, gained an 
ascendency over me at once. I saw that he was a 
master in a walk in which I myself had so long been a 
student, and that he was a consummate adept in the ' art 
of impudence.' 

And how mistaken is the world at large in the meaning 
of that art ! How prone to call the unblushing effrontery 
of every underbred man impudence — the rudeness that 
dares any speech, or adventures upon any familiarity — the 
soulless, heartless, selfish intrusiveness that scruples not 
to invade any society. These are not impudence, or they 
are such specimens of the quality as men only possess in 
common with inferior animals. I speak of that educated, 
cultivated 'impudence,' which, never abashed by an in- 
feriority — felt acutely — is resolved to overbear worldly 
prejudices by the exercise of gifts that assert a mastery 
over others — a power of rising, by the expansive force of 
self-esteem, into something almost estimable. Ordinary 
mortals tell lies at intervals per saltum, as the doctors say, 
but these people's whole life is a lie. The chevalier was a 
fine specimen of the class, and seemed as indifferent to a 
hundred little adverse circumstances as though everything 
around him went well and pleasantly. 

There was a suave dignity in the way he moved a very 
dubious hand over his unshaven chin — in the graceful 
negligence he exhibited when disposing the folds of his 
threadbare cloak — in the jaunty lightness with which, 



CON CREGAN 503 

after saluting, he replaced his miserable hat on the 
favoured side of his head, that conveyed the whole story 
of the man. 

What a model for my imitation had he been, thought I, 
if I had seen him in the outset of life ! what a study he 
had presented ! And yet there he was, evidently in needy 
circumstances, pressed on by even urgent want, and I, 
Con Cregan, the outcast — the poor friendless street-runner, 
had become a ' millionaire.' 

I don't know how it was, but certainly I felt marvel- 
lously ill at ease with my new friend. A real aristocrat, 
with all the airs of assumption and haughtiness, would 
have been a blessing compared with the submissive soft- 
ness of the chevalier. Through all his flattery there 
seemed a sly consciousness that his honeyed words were a 
snare and his smile a delusion ; and I could never divest 
myself of the feeling that he saw into the very secret of 
my heart, and knew me thoroughly. 

I must become his dupe, thought I, or it is all over with 
me. The fellow will detect me for a parvenu long before 
we reach Malaga ! 

No man, born and bred to affluence, could have acquired 
the keen insight into life that I possessed. I must mask 
this knowledge, then, if I would still be thought a ' born 
gentleman.' This was a wise resolve ; at least its effects 
were immediately such as I hoped for. The chevalier's 
little sly sarcasms, his half-insinuated equivoques, were 
changed for a tone of wonder and admiration for all I 
said. How one so young could have seen and learned so 
much ! — what natural gifts I must possess !— how remark- 
ably just my views were ! — how striking the force of my 
observations ! — and all this, while I was discoursing what 
certainly does not usually pass for ' consummate wisdom.' 
I soon saw that the chevalier set me down for a fool ; and 
from that moment we changed places — he became the 
dupe versus me. To be sure, the contrivance cost me 
something, as we usually spent the evenings at piquet or 



504 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

ecarte, and the consul was the luckiest of men ; to use his 
own phrase, applied to one he once spoke of — savait 
corriger la fortune. 

Although he spoke freely of the fashionable world of 
Paris and London, with all whose celebrities he affected a 
near intimacy, he rarely touched upon his New- World 
experiences, and blinked all allusion whatever to the 
republic of ' Campecho.' His own history was comprised 
in the brief fact that he was the cadet of a great family 
of Provence. — All your French rogues I remark come 
from the south of France. — That he had once held a high 
diplomatic rank, from which, in consequence of the fall of 
a ministry, he was degraded, and after many vicissitudes 
of fortune, he had become Consul-General at Campecho. 
' My friends,' continued he, ' are now looking up again in 
the world, so that I entertain hopes of something better 
than perpetual banishment. 

Of English people, their habits, modes of life, and 
thought, the chevalier spoke to me with a freedom he 
never would have used if he had not believed me to be a 
Spaniard, and only connected with Ireland through the 
remote chain of ancestry. This deceit of mine was one he 
never penetrated, and I often thought over the fact with 
satisfaction. To encourage his frankness on the subject 
of my country, I affected to know nothing, or next to 
nothing, of England; and gradually he grew to be more 
communicative, and at last spoke with an unguarded 
freedom which soon opened to me a clue of his real 
history. 

It was one day as we walked the deck together, that, 
after discussing the tastes and pursuits of the wealthy 
English, he began to talk of their passion for sport, and 
especially horseracing. The character of this national 
pastime he appeared to understand perfectly, not as a 
mere foreigner who had witnessed a Derby or a Doncaster, 
but as one conversant with the traditions of the turf or 
the private life of the jockey and the trainer. 



CON CREGAN 505 

I saw that he coloured all his descriptions with a tint 
meant to excite an interest within me for these sports. 
He drew a picture of an 'Ascot meeting,' wherein were 
assembled all the ingredients that could excite the curiosity 
and gratify the ambition of a wealthy, high-spirited youth ; 
and he dilated with enthusiasm upon his own first im- 
pressions of these scenes, mingled with half -regrets of how 
many of his once friends had quitted the turf since he 
last saw it ! 

He spoke familiarly of those whose names I had often 
read in newspapers as the great leaders of the sporting 
world, and affected to have known them all on terms of 
intimacy and friendship. Even had the theme been less 
attractive to me, I would have encouraged it for other 
reasons, a strange glimmering suspicion ever haunting my 
mind that I had heard of the worthy chevalier before, 
and under another title ; and so completely had this idea 
gained possession of me, that I could think of nothing 
else. 

At length, after we had been some weeks at sea, the 
welcome cry of ' Land ! ' was given from the mast-head ; 
but as the weather was hazy and thick, we were compelled 
to shorten sail, and made comparatively little way through 
the water ; so that at nightfall we saw that another day 
must elapse ere we touched mother earth again. 

The chevalier and the captain both dined with me ; 
the latter, however, soon repaired to the deck, leaving us 
in tete-a-tete. It was in all likelihood the last evening we 
should ever pass together, and I felt a most eager longing 
to ascertain the truth of my vague suspicions. Chance 
gave me the opportunity. We had been playing cards, and 
luck — contrary to custom, and in part owing to my always 
shuffling the cards after my adversary — had deserted him 
and taken my side. At first this seemed to amuse him, 
and he merely complimented me upon my fortune, and 
smiled blandly at my success. After a while, however, his 
continued losses began to irritate him, and I could see that 



506 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

his habitual command of temper was yielding to a peevish 
captious spirit he had never exhibited previously. 

' Shall we double our stake ? ' said he, after a long run 
of ill-luck. 

' If you prefer it, of course,' said I. And we played on, 
but ever with the same result. 

' Come,' cried he, at last, ' I '11 wager fifty Napoleons on 
this game.' The bet was made, and he lost it ! With the 
like fortune he played on and on, till at last, as day was 
dawning, he had not only lost all that he had won from 
me during the voyage, but a considerable sum besides, 
and for which he gave me his cheque upon a well-known 
banker at Paris. 

' Shall I tell you your fortune, Monsieur le Comte ? ' 
said he, in a tone of bitterness that almost startled me. 

' With all my heart,' said I, laughing ; ' are you skilful 
as a necromancer ? ' 

'I can at least decipher what the cards indicate,' said 
he. ' There is no great skill in reading where the print is 
legible.' With these words he shuffled the cards, dividing 
them into two or three packets, the first card of each he 
turned on the face. ' Let me premise, count,' said he, 
'before I begin, that you will not take anything in bad 
part which I may reveal to you, otherwise, I '11 be silent. 
You are free to believe or not to believe what I tell you, 
but you cannot reasonably be angry if unpleasant dis- 
coveries await you.' 

' Go on fearlessly,' said I ; ' 1 11 not promise implicit 
faith in everything, but I'll pledge myself to keep my 
temper.' 

He began at once, drawing forth every third card of 
each heap, and disposing them in a circle, side by side. 
When they were so arranged, he bent over, as if to study 
them, concealing his eyes from me by his hand — but at the 
same time, as I could perceive, keenly watching my face 
between his fingers. ' There is some great mistake here,' 
said he at length, in a voice of irritation. ' I have drawn 



CON CREGAN 507 

the cards wrong, somehow ; it must be so, since the inter- 
pretation is clear as print. What an absurd blunder, too ! ' 
and he seemed as if about to dash the cards up in a heap, 
from a sense of angry disappointment. 

' Nay, nay,' cried I, interposing. ' Let us hear what 
they say, even though we may dispute the testimony.' 

' If it were less ridiculous it might be offensive,' said he, 
smiling ; ' but being as it is, it is really good laughing 
matter.' 

' I am quite impatient — pray read on.' 

' Of course it is too absurd for anything but ridicule,' 
said he smiling, but, as I thought, with a most malicious ex- 
pression. ' You perceive here this four of clubs, which, as 
the first card we turn, assumes to indicate your commence- 
ment in life. Now, only fancy, Monsieur le Comte, what 
this most insolent little demon would insinuate. Really, I 
cannot continue. Well, well — be it so. This card would 
say that you were not only born without rank or title, 
but actually in a condition of the very meanest and most 
humble poverty. Isn't that excellent?' said he, bursting 
out into a fit of immoderate laughter, in which the spiteful 
glance of his keen eyes seemed to pierce through and 
through me. 

As for me, I laughed too ; but what a laugh it was ! 
Never was a burst of natural sorrow so poignant in suffer- 
ing as that forced laugh, when, covered with shame, I sat 
there, beneath the sarcastic insolence of the wretch who 
seemed to gloat over the tortures he was inflicting. 

' I can scarcely expect that this opening will inspire you 
with much confidence in the oracle,' said he ; ' the first step 
a falsehood, promises ill for the remainder of the journey.' 

' If not very veracious,' said I, ' it is at least very amus- 
ing. Pray continue.' 

' What would the old counts of your ancestry have said 
to such a profanation ? ' cried the chevalier. ' By St. Denis, 
I would not have been the man to asperse their blood thus, 
in their old halls at Grenada ! ' 



508 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

' We live in a less haughty age,' said I, affecting a smile 
of indifference, and motioning to him to proceed. 

' What follows is the very commonest of that nonsense 
which is revealed in all lowly fortunes. You are, as usual, 
the victim of cold and hunger, suffering from destitution 
and want. Then, there are indications of a bold spirit, 
ambitious and energetic, bursting out through all the 
gloom of your dark condition, and a small whispered 
word in your ear tells you to hope ! ' While the chevalier 
rattled out this rodomontade at a much greater length 
than I have time or patience to repeat, his eyes never 
quitted me, but seemed to sparkle with a fiendlike intelli- 
gence of what was passing within me. As he concluded, 
he mixed up the cards together, merely muttering, half 
aloud, ' Adventures and escapes by land and sea. Abund- 
ance of hard luck, to be all compensated for one day, when 
wealth in all its richest profusion is showered upon you.' 
Then dashing the cards from him in affected anger, he 
said, ' It is enough to make men despise themselves, the 
way in which they yield credence to such rank tomfoolery ! 
but I assure you, count, however contemptible the oracle 
has shown herself to-day, I have on more than one occasion 
been present at the most startling revelations — not alone 
as regarded the past, but the future also.' 

' I can easily believe it, chevalier,' replied I, with a great 
effort to seem philosophically calm. ' One must not reject 
everything that has not the stamp of reason upon it ; and 
even what I have listened to to-day, absurd as it is, has 
not shaken my faith in the divination of the cards. 
Perhaps this fancy of mine is the remnant of a childish 
superstition, which I owe in great part to my old nurse. 
She was a Moor by birth, and imbued with all the tradi- 
tions and superstitions of her own romantic land.' 

There was a most sneering expression on the chevalier's 
face as I uttered these words. I paid no attention to it, 
however, but went on : ' From the venerable dame I myself 
attained to some knowledge of ' destiny reading,' of which 



CON CREGAN 509 

I remember once or twice in life to have afforded very- 
singular proofs. My skill, however, usually preferred un- 
ravelling the "future" to the "present."' 

' Speculation is always easier than recital,' said the 
chevalier dryly. 

' Very true,' said I ; ' and in reading the past I have 
ever found how want of sufficient skill has prevented my 
giving to the great fact of a story the due and necessary 
connection ; so that, indeed, I appear as if distinct events 
alone were revealed to me, without any clue to what pre- 
ceded or followed them. I see destiny as a traveller sees 
a landscape by fitful flashes of lightning at night, great 
tracts of country suddenly displayed as if in the blaze of 
noonday, but lost to sight the next moment for ever ! 
Such humble powers as these, are, I am well aware, 
unworthy to bear competition with your more cultivated 
gifts ; but if, with all their imperfections, you are dis- 
posed to accept their exercise, they are sincerely at your 
service.' 

The chevalier, I suspect, acceded to this proposal in the 
belief that it was an effort on my part to turn the topic 
from myself to him, for he neither seemed to believe in my 
skill nor feel any interest in its exercise. 

Affecting to follow implicitly the old Moorish woman's 
precepts, I prepared myself for my task by putting on a 
great mantle with a hood, which, when drawn forward, 
effectually concealed the wearer's face. This was a pre- 
caution I took the better to study his face, while my own 
remained hidden from view. 

' You are certainly far more imposing as a prophet 
than I can pretend to be,' said he, laughing, as he lighted 
a cigar, and lay back indolently to await my revelations. 
I made a great display of knowledge in shuffling and 
arranging the cards, the better to think over what I was 
about ; and at last, disposing some dozen in certain mystic 
positions before me, I began. 

' You startled me, chevalier, by a discovery which only 



510 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

wanted truth to make it very remarkable. Let me now 
repay you by another which I shrewdly suspect to be in 
the same condition. There are four cards now before me 
whose meaning is most positive, and which distinctly 
assert that you, Chevalier de la Boutonnerie, are no 
chevalier at all ! ' 

' This is capital ! ' said he, filling out a glass of wine and 
drinking it off with the most consummate coolness. 

' And here,' said I, not heeding his affected ease, ' here 
is another still stranger revelation, which says that you 
are not a Frenchman, but a native of a land which latterly 
has taken upon it to supply the rest of the world with 
adventurers — in plain words, a Pole.' 

' It is true that my father, who held a command in the 
Imperial army, lived some years in that country,' said he 
hastily; 'but I have yet to learn that he forfeited his 
nationality by so doing.' 

' I only know what the cards tell me,' said I, spreading 
out a mass of them before me, and pretending to study 
them attentively; 'and here is a complication which 
would need a cleverer expositor than I am. Of all the 
tangled webs ever I assayed to unravel, this is the 
knottiest. Why, really, chevalier, yours must have been 
a life of more than ordinary vicissitude, or else my pro- 
phetic skill has suffered sadly from disuse.' 

' Judging from what you have just told me, I rather 
lean to the latter explanation,' said he, swallowing down 
two glasses of wine with great rapidity. 

' I suspect such to be the case, indeed,' said I, ' for other- 
wise I could scarcely have such difficulty in reading these 
mystic signs once so familiar to me, and from which I 
can now only pick up a stray phrase here and there. 
Thus I see what implies a high diplomatic employment, 
and yet, immediately after, I perceive that this is either 
a mistake of mine or the thing itself a cheat and a 
deception.' 

' It surely does not require divination to tell a diplo- 




Ify first attempt atToxtime Telling' 



CON CREGAN 511 

matic agent that he has served on a foreign mission,' said 
the chevalier with a sneer. 

' Perhaps not ; but I see here vestiges of strange occur- 
rences in which this fact is concerned. A fleeting picture 
passes now before my eyes : I see a racecourse, with its 
crowds of people, and its throng of carriages, and the 
horses are led out to be saddled, and all is expectation 
and eagerness, and — "what ! This is most singular ! the 
vision has passed away, and I am looking at two figures 
who stand side by side in a richly furnished room, a man 
and a woman. She is weeping, and he consoling her. 
Stay ! He lifts his head — the man is yourself, chevalier ! ' 

1 Indeed ! ' said he ; but this time the word was uttered 
in a faint voice, while a pallor, that was almost lividness, 
coloured his dark features. 

' She murmurs a name ; I almost caught it,' exclaimed I, 
as if carried away by the rapt excitement of prophecy. 
' Yes ! I hear it now, perfectly — the name is Alexis ! ' 

A fearful oath burst from the chevalier, and with a 
bound he sprung to his feet, and dashed his closed fists 
against his brow. ' Away with your jugglery — have done 
with your miserable cheat, sir — that can only terrify 
women and children. Speak out like a man — who are 
you, and what are you ? ' 

' What means this outrage, sir ? How have you 
forgotten yourself so far as to use this language to me ? ' 
said I, throwing back the mantle and standing full before 
him. 

' Let us have no more acting, sir, whether it be as 
prophet or bully,' said he sternly. ' You affect to know 
?ne, who I am, and whence I have come. Make the game 
equal between us, or it may be worse for you.' 

' You threaten me, then,' said I calmly. 

' I do,' was the answer. 

' It is therefore open war between us ? ' 

' I never said so,' replied he, with a most cutting irony 
of manner ; ' but whatever secret malice can do — and you 



512 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

shall soon know what it means — I pledge myself you will 
not find yourself forgotten.' 

' Agreed then ; now leave me, sir.' 

' I am your guest, sir,' said he, with a most hypocritical 
air of deference and courtesy. ' It is surely scant polite- 
ness to drive me hence when I am not in a position to 
find another shelter ; we are upon the high seas ; I cannot 
walk forth and take my leave. Believe me, sir, the 
character you would fain perform before the world would 
not act so.' 

Notwithstanding the insult conveyed in the last words, 
I determined that I would respect ' him who had eaten my 
salt,' and with a gesture of assent, for I could not speak, I 
moved away. 

No sooner was I alone than I repented me of the 
rash folly into which, for the indulgence of a mere 
petty vengeance, I had been betrayed. I saw that by 
this absurd piece of malice I had made an enemy of a 
man whose whole career vouched for the danger of his 
malevolence. 

How could he injure me? What species of attack 
could he make upon me? Whether was it more likely 
that he would avoid me as one dangerous to himself, or 
pursue me wherever I went by his vengeance? These 
were hard questions to solve, and they filled my mind 
so completely that I neither heeded the bustle which 
heralded the arrival on board of the pilot, or the still 
busier movement which told that we were approaching 
the harbour. At last I went on deck and approached the 
bulwark, over which a number of the crew were leaning, 
watching the course of a boat that, with all her canvas 
spread, was making for land. ' The pilot-boat,' said the 
captain, in reply to my glance of inquiry ; ' she is lying 
straight in, as the consul is anxious to land at once.' 

' Is he on board of her ? ' said I, with an anxiety I could 
not conceal. 

' Yes, Sefihor Conde, and your Excellency's secretary too.' 



CON CREGAN 513 

Was it my fear suggested the notion, or was it the 
simple fact, but I thought that the words ' Count ' and 
' Excellency ' were articulated with something like a 
sneer? I had no opportunity to put the matter to the 
test, for the captain had already quitted the spot, and was 
busy with the multifarious cares the near approach to 
land enforces. My next thought was, Why had my 
secretary gone ashore without my orders? Was this a 
piece of zeal on his part to make preparations for our 
disembarking, or might it be something worse? and if 
so, what? Every moment increased the trouble of my 
thoughts. Certainly misfortunes do cast their shadows 
before them, for I felt that strange and overwhelming 
sense of depression that never is causeless. I ran over 
every species of casualty that I could imagine, but except 
highway robbery, actual ' brigandage,' I could not fancy 
any real, positive danger to be anticipated from the 
chevalier. 

How different was my mood from what I expected it 
would have been on nearing shore ? Where were all my 
visions of pomp and splendour ? Where the proud circum- 
stances of my more than princely state? Alas, I would 
have given a full fourth of my wealth to be landed 
unostentatiously and quietly, and to have my mind 
relieved from all dread of the cursed chevalier ! 

That I did not overrate the peril before me, events soon 
proved. 





pffifEMM 



THE 'CARCEL MORENA ' AT MALAGA 

'S we sailed proudly into the harbour of 
Malaga, my attention, at first directed to the striking 
features of the shore, where lay a city actually embowered 
amid orange groves, was soon drawn off by the appear- 
ance of a boat, rowed by twelve men, which approached 
the ship. The national flag of Spain floated from a 
standard in her stern, and I could mark the glitter of 
arms and uniform on board of her. 

• The officers of health, I suppose ? ' said I, carelessly, to 
the captain. 'No, senhor, these are soldiers of the 
garrison.' 

« Ah ! I understand,' said I : ' they are on the alert as to 
whom they land in these troublous times ' ; for it was the 
period of the great Carlist struggle. 

' Possibly,' was his dry remark ; and he moved away. 

A hoarse challenge from the boat was answered by 



THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 515 

something from the ship ; and the ' accommodation- 
ladder ' was immediately lowered, and an officer ascended 
to the deck, followed by two of his men, with their side- 
arms. 

Some of the ordinary greetings being interchanged 
between the captain and the officer, the latter said, ' My 
business here is with the person styling himself the Conde 
Cregano. Where is he ? ' 

' That is my name, senhor,' said I, with a studious 
admixture of civility and condescension. 

' Please to walk this way, sir,' said the officer, leading 
towards the poop cabin, and preceding me with a degree 
of assurance that boded ill for his impression of my 
dignity. 

As we entered the cabin, I could hear the two soldiers 
taking up their places as sentries at the door. 

'I wish to see your passport, senhor,' said he, as he 
seated himself at the table. 

' My passport shall be produced at the fitting time,' said 
I, ' when I arrive on shore. Here I have no need of any.' 

' You are wrong, sir : once within that circle of buoys, 
at the mouth of the port, you are within the limits of the 
shore authorities ; but were it even otherwise, these are 
not the times for scruples, and I, for one, would not 
hesitate to arrest you on the information I have received.' 

' Information you have received, sir ! ' exclaimed I, in 
terror and amazement. 

' Yes, sir ; I may as well tell you that Malaga is not in 
the possession of your friends — you will not find a Carlist 
garrison ready to give you a salute of honour at your 
landing. Far less formal, but not less peremptory atten- 
tions await you ; but produce your papers, for I have no 
time to lose.' 

I saw at a glance that my position was most perilous, 
and as rapidly resolved to make an effort for safety. 
' Senhor Capitana,' said I, placing an open pocket-book 
stuffed with bank-notes before him, ' please to accept my 



516 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

passport, and to keep it in your own safe possession. I 
shall put to sea again, and order the captain to land me at 
some port in Italy.' 

'It is too late,' said he, with a sigh, as he pushed the 
pocket-book away ; ' the informations against you are 
already transmitted to Madrid.' 

' Great heavens ! and for whom do they take me ? ' 
cried I. 

' I cannot tell. I never heard. I only know that I have 
the order for your arrest as the person assuming to be 
" the Conde Cregano." ' 

' What crime is laid to my charge ? — have I defrauded 
any one ? What is alleged against me ? ' 

' Show me your passport,' said he again. 

' There it is,' said I, producing the document which by 
Don Estaban's intervention I had obtained from the 
authorities of Guajuaqualla, and wherein I was called a 
native of Grenada, and a noble of Spain. 

' And all this is true as set forth ? ' said the officer. 

'It is a principle of law in my native land that no 
prisoner is called upon to criminate himself,' said I. 

'In that case you are no Spaniard,' said the officer 
shrewdly, 'nor, indeed, does your accent so bespeak you. 
You are now under arrest.' He opened the door as he said 
this, and pointing me out to the two sentries, whispered 
something too low for me to overhear. This done, he left 
the cabin and went upon deck. 

I looked up from the chair where I sat into the faces of 
my two guardians, and a more ill-favoured pair of gentle- 
men I never beheld. Ill-fed but dissipated-looking rascals, 
they seemed more like highwaymen than soldiers. Still, 
even a chance was not to be thrown away, and so I 
whispered in a soft voice — ' My worthy friends, in that 
writing-case yonder there are bank-notes to a very large 
amount. In a few moments they will be taken away 
from me, never to be restored. I may as well have the 
satisfaction of knowing that two brave but poor men are 



CON CREGAN 517 

benefited by them. Bring me the desk, and I '11 give them 
to you.' They looked at each other and they looked at 
me ; they then looked towards the door and the skylight, 
and although without speaking, it was plain enough to 
see what was passing in their minds. 

' Remember,' said I, ' I ask nothing in return from you. 
I shall not attempt to escape ; nor were I to do so, could 
you aid me in any way. I merely wish to assist two 
worthy fellows, who certainly do not look like the " spoiled 
children of fortune." ' 

They hesitated, and seemed afraid ; and at last they 
whispered for a few seconds together; and then one of 
them went over, and taking up the desk, laid it down 
before me. 'You can make a fair division at another 
time,' said I ; ' it is better not to waste precious moments 
now, but at once conceal the money about your persons. 
Here are some eight or ten thousand piastres — and 
here, fully as much more for you. These are Mexican 
notes for a large sum, and these are bills on Amsterdam 
and Hamburg for great amounts. That's right, my lads, 
make short work of it — in your boots, in your shakos — 
anywhere for the present, only be quiet ! ' 

Truly they merited all my encomiums ! To 'stow away' 
plunder I 'd back them against any pair who ever stopped 
a diligence on the highroad; nor was it without some 
little difficulty I could persuade them to leave any money 
in the desk, as a precaution to prevent the suspicion of 
what had actually occurred. As I aided them in the work 
of concealment, I artfully contrived to possess myself of 
one paper — the Havannah banker's receipt for the large 
deposits I had left in his hands, and this I managed to slip 
within the lining of my travelling-cap. It was a last 
anchor of hope, if ever I were to weather the storm 
around me ! 

Our work had scarcely been completed, and the desk 
replaced in its former situation, when the officer returned. 
He briefly informed me that seals had been placed on all 
13 2l 



518 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

my effects, that my household was placed under an arrest 
similar to my own, and that when I had pointed out the 
various articles of my property in the cabin, there was 
nothing more for me to do but to accompany him on 
shore. 

As I was not suffered to take any portion of my 
baggage with me, even of my clothes, I was soon in the 
boat and pulling rapidly for the land. The quays and 
the jetty were crowded with people, whose curiosity I at 
once perceived had no other object than myself, and 
although some did not scruple to exhibit towards me 
signs of dislike and dissatisfaction, I could remark that 
others regarded me with a compassionate, and even a 
kindly look. All were, however, scrupulously silent and 
respectful, and touched their hats in salutation as I 
ascended the stairs of the landing-place. 

This feeling, to my considerable astonishment, I per- 
ceived extended even to the soldiery, one or two of whom 
saluted as I passed. In any case, thought I, it is for no 
insignificant offender I am taken ; and even that is some 
comfort, provided my crime be not high-treason. 

I was conducted straight to the ' Carcel Morena,' a 
large, sombre-looking building, which was at once fortress, 
prison, and residence of the governor, exhibiting a curious 
mixture of these incongruous functions in all its details. 

The apartment into which I was ushered was a large 
saloon, dimly lighted by narrow windows piercing the 
thick walls. The furniture had once been handsome, but 
from time and neglect had become worn and disfigured. 
A small table, spread with a very tolerable breakfast, 
stood in one of the windows, at which I was invited to 
seat myself, and then I was left alone to my own lucubra- 
tions. Hunger prevailed over grief. I ate heartily, and 
having concluded my meal, amused myself by studying 
the Trojan War, which was displayed upon the walls in a 
very ancient tapestry. 

I had traced the fortunes of Greeks and Trojans on the 



CON CREGAN 519 

walls till I was well-nigh wearied. I had even gazed upon 
the little patches of brown grass beneath the windows, 
till my eyes grew dim with watching, but no one came to 
look after me ; and, in the unbroken silence around, I half 
feared that I should be utterly forgotten, and left, like the 
old tapestry, to die of moths and years ; but at last, as day 
was declining, I heard something like the clank of arms 
and the tramp of soldiery, and soon the sounds were more 
distinctly marked, approaching my door. Suddenly the 
two leaves of the folding-door were thrown wide, and an 
elderly man, in a general's uniform, followed by two other 
officers, entered. 

Without taking any notice of the salute I made him, he 
walked towards the fire-place, and standing with his back 
to it, said to one of his aides-de-camp, 'Read the prochs- 
verbal, Jose.' 

Jose bowed, and taking from his sabretache a very 
lengthy roll of paper, began to read aloud, but with such 
rapidity and such indistinctness withal, that I could only, 
and with the greatest difficulty, catch a stray word here 
and there. The titles of her Majesty the Queen appeared 
to occupy full ten minutes, and an equal time to be passed 
in setting forth the authority under whose jurisdiction I 
then stood. These over, there came something about an 
individual who, born a Mexican, or a native of Texas, had 
assumed the style, title, and dignity of a count of Spain — 
such rank being taken for purposes of deception, and the 
better to effect certain treasonable designs, to be set forth 
hereafter. After this there came a flourish about the 
duties of loyalty and fidelity to the sovereign, whose 
private virtues came in by parenthesis, together with a 
very energetic denunciation on all base and wicked men, 
who sought to carry dissension into the bosom of their 
country, and convulse with the passions of a civil war a 
nation proverbially tranquil and peace-loving. 

Nothing could be less interesting than the style of this 
paper, except the manner of him who recited it. State 



520 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

truisms, in inflated language, and wearisome platitudes 
about nothing, received no additional grace from a 
snuffling nasal intonation and a short cough. 

I listened at first with the anxiety of a man whose 
fortunes hung on the issue ; then, as the vague rambling 
character of the document diminished this interest, I heard 
with more indifference ; and lastly, completely wearied by 
the monotony of the voice, and the tiresome iterations 
of the style, I could not prevent my thoughts from 
wandering far from the affair in hand. 

What fearful crimes were alleged against me — what 
dire offences I was charged with — I was not to hear, since, 
lost in the pleasant land of daydreams, I fancied myself 
strolling in the shade of a forest, with Donna Maria beside 
me, while I poured out a most impassioned narrative of 
my love and fidelity. Nor was it till the reading was 
concluded, and a loud Hem ! from the general resounded 
through the chamber, that I remembered where I was. 

' Prisoner ! ' said he, in a stern, authoritative tone, ' you 
have now heard the nature of the charge against you, 
and the reasons of your arrest; you will answer certain 
questions, the replies to which, if not in accordance with 
truth, constitute the crime of traicion, the penalty being 
death. What is your name ? ' 

' Con Cregan.' 

' Native of what country ? ' 

' Ireland.' 

' What rank and position do you hold in society ? ' 

' A variable one — as luck favours me.' 

' What trade or profession do you follow ? ' 

1 Whatever seems most convenient at the moment.' 

' Have you served ? ' 

' I have.' 

' In the land or sea service ? ' 

' In both.' 

' With what grade ? ' 

' Nothing very distinguished.' 



CON CREGAN 521 

' Have you ever held the command of an expedition ? ' 

' I have.' 

' With what object, and where ? ' 

' In the prairies of South America, to shoot red deer.' 

' Remember, sir,' said the general, ' this is no occasion 
for untimely jest ; these sallies may cost you more dearly 
than you think for.' 

'If I am to speak the truth,' said I boldly, 'I must 
answer as I have done. If you want fiction, I 'm ready for 
you at a moment's notice.' 

' Make a note of that, Jose — " says that he is perfectly 
indifferent whether he tells truth or falsehood." ' 

'And add, by way of parenthesis,' said I, 'that the 
general is precisely of my own way of thinking.' 

' Write down, " insults the commission," ' said the 
general, boiling with rage. 

The paragraph seemed a full one, for the interrogating 
was not resumed for some minutes. 

'Now, sir,' resumed the general, 'state your object in 
coming to the country.' 

' To get out of it as fast as I could.' 

' For whose use were the arms provided — the horses, 
and horse equipage with which you embarked ? ' 

' My own.' 

' Name the agent or agents of Don Carlos with whom 
you have held correspondence ? ' 

' None. I never knew any.' 

' By whose hands were the large sums of money in your 
possession intrusted to you ? ' 

' I found them.' 

' How, and where ? ' 

' In a hole.' 

The general's face grew purple ; and more than once I 
could see the struggle it cost him to repress his bursting 
indignation. And, in the mutterings he let fall to his 
secretary, it was easy to mark that his comments on the 
evidence were not too favourable. 



522 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

'Were you acquainted with Brigadier Hermose Gon- 
zillos?' 

'No.' 

' Nor with his brother, the Canon Gonzillos ? ' 

'No.' 

' When did you first meet Senhor Ruy Peres Y' Hacho ? ' 

' Never saw him in my life.' 

' Nor held intercourse with him ? ' 

' Never.' 

' Were not much in his company, nor intrusted to him 
the secret details of the expedition?' 

' I know nothing of what you 're talking about.' 

' Produce Ruy Peres,' said the general ; and the door 
opened, and the chevalier, dressed in a military uniform, 
and with several decorations of foreign orders, entered. 

' Do you know this gentleman ? ' said the general dryly. 

'I know him for a Pole, whose name is Alexis Rad- 
chofody; at least, under such a name he once lived in 
London, and is well known to the police there.' 

' Go on,' said the general to the secretary. ' On being 
confronted with the Sehhor Ruy Peres, the prisoner 
became suddenly abashed, and at once confessed that 
he had known him intimately several years before in 
London.' 

' Is that man a witness against me ? ' asked I eagerly. 

'Attend to me, sir,' said the general, while he made 
a sign to the chevalier to retire ; ' neither subterfuge nor 
insolence will avail you here. You are perfectly well 
known to us — your early history, your late intrigues, 
your present intentions.' 

'With such intimate knowledge of all about me, 
general,' said I coolly, 'haven't we been wasting a great 
deal of valuable time in this interrogatory ? ' 

' And, notwithstanding repeated admonitions, persisted 
in using the most indecorous language to the commission.' 
These words the general dictated in a loud voice, and they 
were immediately taken down by his secretary. 



CON CREGAN 523 

' Senhor Concregan,' said he, addressing me, ' you stand 
now committed, by virtue of a royal warrant, a copy of 
which, and of the charges laid against you, will be duly 
transmitted to you. Whenever the authorities have 
decided whether your offence should be submitted to a 
civil or military tribunal, you will be brought up for trial.' 

'I am an English subject, sir,' said I; 'I belong to a 
nation that never permits its meanest member to be 
trampled on by foreign tyranny, far less will it suffer his 
liberty or life to be sacrificed to a false and infamous 
calumny. I claim the protection of my ambassador, or at 
least of such a representative of my country as your petty 

locality may possess. I desire ' What I was about to 

demand as my birthright was not destined to be made 
public on this occasion, since at a signal from the general 
the door opened, and two soldiers advancing, adjusted 
handcuffs on my wrists, and led me away even before 
I had recovered from the surprise the whole proceeding 
occasioned me. 

Whether it was that I enjoyed the prerogative of a 
state-prisoner, or that the authorities were not quite 
clear that they were justified in what they were doing, 
I cannot say, but my prison discipline was of the very 
mildest order. I had a most comfortable room, with a 
window looking seaward over the beautiful bay of Malaga, 
taking a wide range along shore, where gardens, and 
villas, and orange groves extended for miles. The furni- 
ture was neat, and with some pretensions to luxury ; and 
the fare, I am bound to own, was excellent. Books, and 
even newspapers, were freely supplied to me, and, save 
that at certain intervals the clank of a musket, and the 
shuffling of feet in the corridor without, told that the 
sentry of my guard was being relieved, I could have fancied 
myself in some homely inn, without a restriction upon my 
liberty. My handcuffs had been removed the moment I 
had entered my chamber, and now the iron stanchions of 
my window were the only reminders of a gaol around me. 








CONSOLATIONS OF DIPLOMACY 

HE first revulsion of feeling over — the terr- 
ible shock of that fall from the pinnacle 
of wealth and greatness to the lowly condition of a pris- 
oner, unfriended and destitute — I actually began to enjoy 
my life, and feel something wonderfully like happiness. 
I do not pretend to say that my disappointment was not 
most acute and painful, or that I suffered little from the 
contemplation of my ruined hopes. No ! far from it ; 
but my grief, like the course of a mountain torrent, 
soon ran off, and left the stream of my life clear and 
untroubled as ever. It is true, thought I, this is a terrible 
contrast to what I was a week ago ! but still, is it not 
a long way in advance of what my original condition 
promised? I am a prisoner in a Spanish fortress — is 
not even that better than a peasant in an Irish hovel? 
The very cares with which I am surrounded bespeak a 
certain consequence pertaining to me ; I am one whom 



THE CONFESSIONS OF CON CREGAN 525 

ministers of state think and speak about — whose name 
is often on their lips — whose memory haunts them in 
their half -waking moments. Is not this something? Is 
it not a great deal to one, whose whole ideal was to avoid 
the by-paths of life, and take his course in its very widest 
and busiest thoroughfares. 

The occupations in which I passed my days greatly 
contributed to sustain this pleasant illusion. I was 
eternally writing letters, memorials, statements of facts, 
and what not, of interminable narratives, to all our 
ministers and consuls, invoking their aid, and protesting, 
in the name of the British nation, against the unwarrant- 
able tyranny of my imprisonment. It is quite true that 
these lengthy documents of mine seemed to meet but 
sorry acceptance. For a length of time no acknowledg- 
ment of their reception ever reached me, but at last the 
following dry epistle informed me that my memorials 
had reached their destination : — 

'Sir, — I am directed by the Secretary of State for 
Foreign Affairs to acknowledge the receipt of your 
memorials, dated the 9th, 12th, 18th, 23rd, and 25th of 
last month, together with various letters bearing on the 
same subjects since that time, and to state in reply, that 
the matter of your complaint is at present under investi- 
gation with the authorities of the Spanish Government. 

' His lordship the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs 
desires me to add his regrets, that even in the event of 
liberation, he can hold out no prospect whatever that any 
compensation will be made to you for the loss of property 
you allege to have suffered, and which, of course, was 
incurred as one of the many risks natural to the course 
of such an expedition as you were engaged in. — I have 
the honour to be, sir, your most obedient servant, 

'Joseph Backslip. 

' F.O., London, Oct. 18—. 

' To Cornelius Cregan, Esq.' 



526 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

This was a sad damper. To think that I was to lose 
the immense amount of property with which I had em- 
barked ! The gems and jewels, the rare objects of art, the 
equipages, the beautiful horses of purest Mexican blood, 
not to speak of that far greater loss — the large sum in 
actual money ; but, then, what a consolation to remember, 
that a Secretary of State was mingling his sorrows with 
my own on the subject ; that he actually gave an official 
character to his grief by desiring the Under-Secretary 
to convey ' his regrets ' in a despatch ! his regrets — to me, 
Con Cregan! What inestimable words! That ever I 
should live to know that the Right Honourable Lord 
Puzzleton, the adored cherub of fashion — the admired of 
coteries — the worshipped of the Commons — the favoured 
guest of Windsor, should, under the big seal of his office, 
assure me of his heartfelt sympathy ! 

I closed my eyes as I read the paragraph, and imagined 
that we were weeping together, like the 'Babes in the 
Wood.' ' How they wrong this man,' thought I, ' in Eng- 
land — what calumnies they circulate about his levity, his 
heartlessness, and so forth ! And see ! look at him here, 
mingling in the private sorrows of an individual, and 
taking part in all the private woes of Con Cregan.' By 
this beautiful artifice I contrived to raise the aforesaid 
Con to a very considerable elevation in his own esteem. 
And thus, worthy reader, by pleasant fancies and ingenious 
illusions — wares that every man can fashion at will — did 
I contrive to make my prison at Malaga a most endurable 
resting-place, and even now to make its retrospect full of 
sweet memories. 

Nor were my imaginings limited to such visions as 
these ; for I loved to compare my condition with that of 
other exalted prisoners, and fancy how my conduct would 
read by the side of theirs. If I were less piously resigned 
— less submissive than Silvio Pellico — assuredly I showed 
more dignity in my fall than the Exile of St. Helena. I 
bore all the little vexations of my lot with a haughty 



CON CREGAN 527 

reserve that entirely subdued every sign of a querulous 
nature, and seemed to say, ' My time will come yet ! ' 

At last it appeared either as if my memorials were 
never opened, or, if opened, never read. No answer came 
whatever ; and even the Malaga newspapers, which, in the 
dearth of shipping intelligence, would often insert some 
little notice of me, stating how 'the conde walked 
yesterday for an hour upon "the leads'" — 'the conde 
partook with an appetite of a partridge, and conversed 
freely with the officer on duty,' and so on, now they never 
by any chance alluded to me ; and I seemed, for all the 
interest the world manifested about me, to have suffered 
a species of moral decease. It was the unhealthy season of 
the year, and the consul had absented himself, leaving his 
functions to his ' Vice,' who having also a ' constitution,' 
had departed likewise, bequeathing the traditions and 
cares of office to his Dutch colleague, who neither spoke 
nor read any other tongue than that muddy language 
begotten of dykes and fogs. Wearied possibly by the 
daily arrival of half a quire of my remonstrances, or 
curious to see the machine by which these broad sheets 
were struck off with such unfailing celerity, this official 
arrived one day at the prison with an order from the 
governor, permitting him to see the conde. 

I was as usual writing away when the turnkey 
announced his Excellency (every official is Excellency if 
too low for Highness), Mynheer van Hoagendrius, and a 
very short and immensely fat personage, dressed in a kind 
of black-and-white plaid jacket and trousers, entered. He 
looked like a huge chess-board set on legs. A grunt, a 
snort, a thick sound like a struggle between choking and 
gurgling ensued, which I concluded to be something in 
Dutch, and he seated himself opposite me. 

I made my compliments to him, polyglot-wise, in 
French, English, Spanish, and at last German — the last 
evidently striking a spark out of the embers of his cold 
intelligence, for he fixed his dull eyes upon me, and 



528 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

seemed as though he would soon wake up. Animated by 
this hope, I proceeded in my very best 'Deutsch' to 
expound my sorrows to him. Fortunately for me, my 
German had been acquired in the low companionship of 
' skippers ' and sailors, and consequently bore a nearer 
resemblance to its half-brother of Holland than the more 
cultivated tongues of professors and philosophers. 

I cannot, to this hour, say whether it arose from any 
interest in the narrative, or whether proceeding from the 
laudable desire to come at the truth in a question of 
much difficulty, but the Mynheer now came to me each 
morning, and usually stayed two hours, during which I 
talked and he smoked incessantly. Often, when he left 
me, have I asked myself ' what progress I had made in his 
good opinion? how far had I made him master of my 
case ? ' but the question remained without an answer ; for 
if occasionally a stray flash of intelligence would light up 
his dull features, on following the direction of his eyes I 
could perceive that the animation arose from the sight of 
some fishing-boat returning loaded with turbot, or that 
the savoury odour of salt cod had saluted him from the 
shore. I felt at length as though I were sailing without a 
log-line — nothing to mark my progress or say in what 
latitude I cruised. 

My Dutch friend had now been visiting me for above 
six weeks, during which, if he had not supplied himself 
with every detail of my calamity, he had at least smoked 
all the choice tobacco which, as a favour from the 
governor, I was permitted to land for my own use, and 
as yet he had given no signs of life other than the act 
of fumigation aforesaid. I was half angry, half amused, 
at the little act of dexterity with which he emptied 
the last remnant of my pure Havannah into his pipe, 
and heard, with a kind of malicious satisfaction, the 
little sigh with which he pushed the empty canister from 
him. 

He seemed lost for some time in the slough of his 




C em's Dutch. TtieucL . 



CON CREGAN 529 

Dutch reflections, but at length he fixed his eyes upon me, 
and in a low, suffocating tone said, ' Hast a file ? ' 

1 No,' said I. 

' There then,' said he, giving me a small parcel tightly 
tied up in paper. ' Farewell ! ' and he moved towards the 
door before I could recover from my surprise to thank 
him. As he reached it, he turned about, and in a very 
significant voice said, ' Der bood est hardt ' — a species of 
Plat-Deutsch I might not have understood if unaccom- 
panied by a gesture, which implied that the ground was 
hard beneath my window, as a caution to me in the event 
of a leap. 

No sooner was I alone than I opened my precious 
packet, which, besides two files, contained a small phial of 
aqua-fortis and another of oil — the latter a useful adjunct 
to prevent the grating noise being heard. Having con- 
cealed the implements in a rat -hole, I proceeded to 
examine the iron bars of the window, which, although 
seemingly of great size and strength, were in reality 
coated "with a rust of more than half their actual thick- 
ness. This was a most inspiriting discovery, and at once 
animated me with glowing hopes of success. 

As I could only work during the night, I affected illness 
as a reason for keeping my bed during the day, when I 
slept profoundly and refreshingly. 

The non-success of all my efforts to interest diplomacy 
in my cause was just beginning to impress me with a 
sense of gloom and despondency, when this new incident 
occurred to rally my drooping courage. Life had now an 
object, and that, if not always enough for happiness, is 
sufficient at least to rouse those energies which, when 
stagnant, produce despair. How I longed for night to 
come that I might resume my labour ! "with "what resolute 
industry I worked on during the dark hours, only ceasing 
when the change of the sentries brought the guard close 
beneath my window, and even grudging the few seconds 
thus wasted. With what delight I used to measure the 



530 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

fissure, which, at first only deep enough for my nail, was 
now sufficient to cover the file ! This I used to conceal 
each morning with bread, coloured by the rusty powder 
that fell from the filing, so that, to all seeming, everything 
was in its usual order. 

This was almost the only period of my life in which I 
remembered my father : from some similarity in our 
condition, perhaps, he was now seldom out of my 
thoughts. I used to wonder if he were still alive, and 
how situated; whether he was yet a convict going forth 
in chains to daily toil, or a ticket-of -leave man, working at 
some settlement in the Bush. Did he ever think of me? 
Did he ever dream of his native land, or wish to return to 
it? and what prospect of escape did fortune hold out to 
him ? That, after all, was the great link which bound him 
to my thoughts; was there any silent and sympathising 
Dutchman to take pity on his captivity ? 

At the close of the fifth week, I had the inestimable 
pleasure of ' reporting the breach practicable,' or, in less 
sounding phrase, of assuring myself that the middle bar 
of the window was removable at will; and thus a free 
egress was permitted me to an extensive terrace, which, 
with a low parapet, overlooked the bay for miles. This 
was about five-and-twenty feet from the ground, and was 
guarded beneath by a sentry, one of a chain of sentinels 
whose wateh extended around the entire fortress. The 
descent and the guard were then the only difficulties 
which now remained to be overcome, so far, at least, as 
mere liberation from the prison walls extended. I am 
sure I invented at least fifty choice stratagems, which 
after-thought always showed were perfectly worthless. I 
bethought me of bribing the sentry with the few gold 
pieces which I still possessed; but what security had I 
that he might not resist the seduction, or betray me even 
after receiving the money ? 

The fall, too, was considerable ; nor was there anything 
to which I could attach my bed-clothes to lower myself to 



CON CREGAN 531 

the ground. It must be a drop; and what a situation 
should I be in were I to break a bone, or even sprain my 
ankle in the effort ? Alas ! I now perceived that, although 
the most laborious portion of my work was accomplished, 
the most difficult still remained to be done. 

The obstacles to mere escape were sufficiently great to 
prevent me even thinking of the course to be pursued 
after I reached the ground in safety, for I was without 
friend, shelter, passport, or any means of disguise or 
concealment whatever. 

I pondered long and carefully over the question, and 
already had two dreary weeks passed over since I had cut 
through the bar, and yet, so far as I could see, no nearer 
to liberation than when the solid iron inclosed me. My 
mind began to sink under the fatigue of unceasing con- 
trivance, and a dreamy, dreary sense of hopelessness 
seemed gaining on me. It had been a dark cloudy day, 
with gusts of wind, followed by intervals of calm. The 
air was moist and heavy, and charged with the depressing 
influences which the ' mestrale,' that sickliest of all winds, 
ever brings. Masses of leaden-coloured clouds floated low 
over the sea, which was broken into a short angry ' jobbe,' 
as if after a storm. 

All betokened the approach of a gale of wind, and as 
night set in, the signs of bad weather thickened. Scarcely 
had the sun set, when it became dark as pitch ; the wind, 
which had lulled for a brief space previous, now sprang 
up, and the sea fretted and chafed against the rocks with 
that peculiar sharp chirping sound that presages wind. 
The clank of chain cables — the plashing noise of falling 
anchors — the loud shouts of the sailors as they prepared 
to meet the gathering storm, even now heard — while, in 
the changing position of the different lights of the bay, I 
could discern the movements of the various vessels as they 
sought shelter or made ready for sea, in expectation of the 
gale. The impenetrable darkness, the roaring wind, the 
flashing of the lights, the cries of the seamen, the hurrying 



532 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

of feet along the quays, and the sounds of different boats' 
crews departing in haste — all gave a charm to a scene of 
which the obscurity increased the interest. A large French 
steamer was to have sailed that night for Marseilles, but I 
overheard a voice from the street foretelling that the 
Gazonne might leave without her passengers, 'as no one 
would go on board of her on such a night.' A red lantern 
at the peak indicated the vessel, and I could see that she 
had changed her position and ' taken up a berth ' farther 
out in the bay. 

I cannot tell by what instinct I selected her as a 
peculiar object of my interest, but so it was. I watched 
her unceasingly, and rarely took my eyes from the quarter 
where she lay ; and when the heaving motion of the ' red 
light' showed that she was tossing in a heavy sea, I 
listened too with eagerness to catch anything from those 
that passed beneath that might concern this vessel, which 
now engrossed all my sympathy. ' Were I once but on 
board of her,' thought I, ' the wildest hurricane that ever 
blew would be sweeter to me than all the balmy airs that 
ever bore the odour of orange-blossom through my barred 
window ! ' I would have braved the stormiest seas, the 
maddest gale, shipwreck itself, rather than longer remain 
the helpless, hopeless thing a life of imprisonment was 
making of me. 'Would that the alternative were given 
me,' said I to myself : ' the free choice to change these four 
walls for the deck over which the waves are dancing in 
foamy sheets ! with what a thankful heart would I take 
the offer.' 

The last visit of the turnkey, who came to see all safe, 
broke in for a moment upon these musings ; and now the 
double-locked door, and his retiring footsteps, told me that 
no further molestation was to be feared, and that I was, 
at least till daybreak, the undisturbed master of my own 
reveries. I opened the window, pushed back the iron 
stanchion, and walked out upon the terrace. It was a 
night of storm and wild hurricane. The rain swept by in 



CON CREGAN 533 

great plashes, increasing the darkness, and mingling its 
hissing noise with the breaking crash of the sea, as it beat 
furiously against the rocks. The dancing, bobbing motion 
of the lights on board the different craft showed what ' a 
sea ' was raging in the bay ; while, even in the city itself, 
the clatter of falling tiles and chimneys told the violence 
of the gale. I stood upon the terrace ; and as the rain 
penetrated my frail garment, and the wind wafted my wet 
hair across my cheeks, I felt a sense of ecstasy that nothing 
in all my previous life had ever equalled. It was the sensa- 
tion of freedom ; it was the burst of delight with which 
the captive welcomes the long-lost liberty. ' Better this,' 
thought I, 'than the snuggest chamber that ever called 
itself a prison.' 

It was past the hour when any further visit from the 
turnkey might be expected. Already the outer door of 
my chamber had been locked and barred with all that 
scrupulous attention to noise and clank that are supposed 
only essential in a melodrama. The sentry had just been 
relieved on the esplanade beneath the terrace, so that I 
might consider myself disencumbered from all fear of 
interruption in any quarter. I sat down upon the parapet 
and peered into the dark depth below me, where the hazy 
glimmer of the sentry's lamp served to mark the height. 
At first it seemed a terrific drop; but after a while I 
began to satisfy myself that the darkness contributed to 
this effect ; and as my sight grew more accustomed to the 
gloom, I was able to trace different objects — among others, 
the conical roof of the sentry-box, at a distance of scarcely 
more than fifteen feet beneath me. 

Thus far I could reach by making a rope of my bed- 
clothes, and attaching one end to a portion of the battlement 
of the parapet ; but how should I venture on a descent in 
such a place ? how risk the almost certainty of recapture 
by the sentry himself ? This was a formidable difficulty, 
and demanded much consideration; and yet, were I to 
select any other spot, I might chance to be disabled by 
13 2 m 



534 THE CONFESSIONS OF 

the fall, and then all my efforts were fruitless, since a 
broken bone, or even a sprained ankle, would be certain 
ruin. 

Never was a knotty point more canvassed, nor the clue 
to a difficulty more zealously searched for ! As generally 
happens in such cases, first thoughts are best, and the bold 
course the safest. By descending on the sentry-box, I 
should at least reach the ground without injury ; and if I 
were to have a ' tussle ' for it with the guard, it would be 
without the disadvantage of a previous damage. Besides 
this, the incessant noise of the tempest, the crashing of the 
sea, and the deep booming of the thunder, gave hopes that 
my descent might be unheard. Nay, more — the sound of 
my heavy body over his head would be rather an admoni- 
tion to stay quietly within than risk himself outside, to 
the danger of tumbling tiles, or masses of masonry from 
the parapet. The more I reflected upon this, the clearer I 
saw that the storm was a heaven-sent accident for me; 
that the darkness, the tumult, and the deserted streets, 
were all accessories the most favourable — that to neglect 
such an occasion of escape would be downright madn